Thursday, 30 July 2015

7 signs that I'm only "nearly" Irish...

I enjoy a good Irish Breakfast, understand most of the slang, I thank the bus driver, and say "sorry" a hundred times a day, even when someone bumps into me.

Yet, there are still typical Irish stuff I don't do or understand...I also know I will get a bit (or a lot) of slagging for what I'm about to write, but I don't care and I will probably laugh along...

1- I've never watched the Late Late Toy show

I can see the look of horror on your face... No I've never watched it, and I suspect this is mainly because it's not part of my childhood. It doesn't bring back any memories, and frankly, Ryan Tubridy doesn't appeal to me at all. "But what about your children?", you might be screaming behind your computer screen!! They watch the repeats at the childminder and that's a win-win situation for me.

2- And I don't watch soaps either

Fair city? Eastenders? Coronation Street? Fair enough I know the names, but the last time ever I watched an entire soap episode was on a trip to England when I was 14. The drama, the never ending improbable scenarios... I just don't get it.

3- I still have an accent

But the good news is, people don't really know where I'm from anymore. They usually know I'm not Irish, but they just can't figure out which country I come from. And that's a good thing. I mean, I've tried very hard to get rid of my French accent, and it's starting to pay off. 
4- I don't follow GAA

But again, I don't follow sports in general. I think I know the general rules, but I'm not entirely sure... Oh, but I understand the scoring system, that's a good thing, right?

5- I don't celebrate Halloween

Just like the Late Late Toy Show, that's not part of my childhood. As a kid, I never dressed up and knocked on doors for candy. I know it's fun and all, but I just don't like fancy dress stuff, unless I'm on stage in a musical or something... Are you still screaming about the children? Well, you might have a point on this one...Eventually they'll start asking for it and I'll have to give in...

6- I still have a hard time with Irish "gastronomy"

I can't make a proper crisps sandwich, I don't eat chocolate bars with crisps and why oh why would you put mayonnaise AND butter on a roll? That's just the recipe for heart disease... And a special mention for the carvery where you'll find roasted, boiled and mashed potatoes on the same plate...Even if I love potatoes, that's just a bit too much.

7- I don't celebrate Paddy's day

Nah, just kidding on that one ;-)

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Life is peaceful here...

A friend of mine has just been offered a job. The salary is a lot better than what he's on at present, and there are a lot of perks. On paper, this sounds like the opportunity he'd be crazy to miss.

Here's the trick. The job is in England, but he really enjoys his life in Ireland. His job is interesting, he rents a little cosy house and gets along very well with his housemate, he likes the town, the people, the pub next door... In his own words "Life is peaceful here".

The truth is, I have never met any foreigner who didn't enjoy living in Ireland and all my friends who went back home have very fond memories of the country. Most of them come back for regular holidays, and a few even came back for good after an unsuccessful stint in France.

We can say what we want about Ireland: recession, high cost of living, terrible weather, but there's one thing I know. It might be down to the "Sure, it'll be grand" general attitude but life here is more relaxed. I know this is just personal experience, but I think Irish people have this ability to laugh about pretty much anything (especially themselves), they're welcoming, open-minded and less judgemental than the French.

Sure we all have our problems. Mine are mainly the high cost of childcare and the fact that we're in negative equity and can't sell our apartment. But on the whole, I think we have a better quality of life than if we were in France. 

If I won the Lotto, would I go back to France? Probably not. I miss my friends and my family more than ever and if I could, I would just go back more often to see them.

But the bottom line is, I love living here, and no amount of money will change that.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

How much information are you willing to make public?

I'm doing some recruiting at work at the moment and it must be my curious nature  but every time I receive an application, my first step after going through the CV and cover letter is to check the applicant social media profiles. 

From the guy dressed up as a Mexican, drinking straight glasses of Tequila for his Nek Nomination (yep, he obviously forgot to put the video in private), to the girl who had clearly artistic but half naked pictures of herself on Instagram, I had my fair share of surprises, and  a great laugh in the process.  

What I will say though, is that what I find about candidates is usually not taken against them and doesn't necessarily influence my decision (and I'm not the only one making it anyway!). 

I often wondered if employers looked me up on Google when I was looking for a job. Did they find my blog? Did they read it? The subject never came up in interviews so I guess will never know...

I blog in my own name and don't use a pseudonym, even when I comment on other blogs, so I have to make sure I can own up to what I write. I'm proud of my blog, I think it shows a positive (most of the time) image of myself and the country I live in. 

So the question really is "How much personal information are you willing to make public?" 

In my case, I would say I'm careful about what I publish, but most importantly, I'm not ashamed of anything I've written (for now!) and if someone doesn't like it, tough!

What do you think? How do you manage your online presence?

Sunday, 19 July 2015

A taste of the future

Doing nothing on holidays is easy...Doing nothing at home is scary!!

Yesterday we got a taste of what life could look like when we retire (or at least when the kids leave the house). And it wasn't pretty...

We spent a few days in France last week-end, and left the kids with my parents, where they will stay until mid-August. I was so excited at the idea for the past few months that I couldn't stop thinking about it. May and June were dragging, homework was killing me and all I wanted was peace and silence in the house.

Well, we definitely have silence now. So much so it was scary for the first few days. Habits still kick in when I hear some kids shouting outside and I wonder for half a second if they are mine, then suddenly come back to reality. They are in France, having a great time, and I'm here, wondering what to do with all this free time.

The first few days back were easy. It was mid-week, we were both working and the routine didn't change too much. Except I slept half an hour more every morning and didn't have to take care of anyone else but me. Pure bliss...

Then, Saturday came along. We hadn't planned anything (and on second thoughts we should have), so after lunch we were kind of lost. What are we doing today? Where are we going? We had no clue whatsoever. 

I started wondering what were we doing before we had kids? Why were we complaining about being so busy all the time? Then my husband reminded me we used to go out a lot, eat in nice restaurants, meeting friends who also didn't have kids. It was a different life altogether. Plus we had a lot more money to afford it all.

In the end, we went for a  20 minute walk on the beach and when we came back, we were so bored we decided to make a list of our favourite movies. We wrote them on little pieces of paper and picked two each at random. Basically we spent nearly the entire day watching movies. Oh dear...!

If this is what retirement will be like, I don't think I'll be able to cope! On the other hand, my eldest told me he didn't want to grow up and would live with us forever, so maybe we won't have to face the prospect of being bored after all...

As for today, we've decided to go on an adventure. We're taking the car and we'll just see where it takes us...because there is no way I'm staying home to watch "The wolf of Wall street" for the umpteenth time.



Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Memories of Bastille Day

A good few years ago in the French embassy for Bastille Day
Back in Brittany, the 14th of July falls around the same time as a traditional festival taking place in my town, so we usually celebrate our local culture more than the French revolution, and this means I have celebrated Bastille Day a lot more in Ireland than in France. 

The French Embassy used to send invitations to all French residents for the yearly party. Sometimes it was in the afternoon, sometimes in the evening, but as the Ambassador changed nearly every year, the event was always different.

One thing didn't change though. There was always plenty of alcohol and French food; well, if you arrived early of course. Put a bunch of French people around wine, Camembert and baguettes and you're in for a fight...

The great thing about the Embassy party was the atmosphere. It was never the same from year to year and that was made it truly unique.

About 10 or 11 years ago, the Ambassador decided it would be a great idea to have a "Rave party" in the garden of the French residence. After all, it was one of his last days, and all I can say is that he left in style!  The atmosphere was electric, everybody was dancing to the beats of the DJ, and I have never seen so many people attending the event since. That's probably because the party went on for a good part of the night and the neighbouring embassies inevitably complained about the noise. I think it was the last year they put on a party in the evening. I wonder why...

But my fondest memory of all is the 14th of July 2007.

We had friends who worked in the consulate so  after the "official" reception we were also invited to a barbecue at one of the gendarmes house on the grounds of the French residence.
Some military from the French Navy were also invited to the reception and we got to talk quite a lot because they were from Brittany (of course!). Once all the guests were gone, we decided to make our way to the barbecue, but at the same moment, the Ambassador's wife came out.
I'm not gonna lie in saying she was a bit drunk, but anyway, she invited us inside the residence and offered a round of Champagne. Then, she sat at the piano and started playing, accompanied by all the Navy military singing French folkloric songs. After a 20 minutes "private concert", we were gently shown the door, but I will never forget that surreal experience!

Sometimes celebrating your national day outside of your birth country is far more eventful than doing it at home... What do you think?

Share your stories :-)