Friday, 28 August 2015

6 things I miss from France

Let's be clear, I can definitely live without baguettes or croissants. I can also manage without French cheese or shutters (even if I complain about them quite a lot). Sometimes I even prefer an Irish breakfast to a French one and I've started drinking tea instead of coffee. But once and again, I feel a bit nostalgic and wish for things that I can't have here in Ireland...

1- Fruit Syrup

Grapefruit, strawberry, lemon, lime, grenadine... I still don't understand why those are not sold in Ireland. Except blackcurrant, you just can't get anything. I'm sure they would be popular with kids, and even adults (a dash of grapefruit syrup with Rosé wine is to die for, trust me).

2- French music

I'm so not up to date with what's going on in the French music scene. I could check it online, but what I actually miss is hearing some random French song on the radio (I know, that's a bit weird). I just miss the variety  and even if the quality is not always there in France, at least you have more choice. Any suggestions are appreciated ;-)

My latest discovery in French music, and yet, that's already a good few months old...

3- Affordable wine

We met an Irish couple who came back from their French holidays a few weeks ago. The highlight of their trip? Being able to bring cheap wine back to Ireland. I'm still very French when it comes to alcohol, and I'd rather drink a nice glass of wine than a pint of beer. Since Tesco has discontinued their cheap but yummy Rosé d'Anjou, I have yet to find a good replacement, because frankly, paying 10 euros for a bottle just breaks my heart.

4- Hot lunch at school

I hate having to make sandwiches for my kids everyday. The reason being I don't think it's very healthy. But there's no canteen in the school and they can't heat food either. There was an article online recently about the Green party wanting to introduce hot lunches in every school in the country.  People who commented were complaining it would be too costly, and wondered why parents would have to pay and so on. Trust me, I wouldn't mind paying 10 euros a week for my child to eat a balanced meal every day instead of a cheese and ham sandwich.

5- Affordable childcare

We are lucky in the sense that we can afford childcare. My husband and I work full time but different hours so the kids never really had to go 8 hours a day to the childminder. In France, you can have tax credits when you pay for childcare, before school and after-school care are common, and within the grounds of the school so you can drop your child at 7:30am and pick him up at 6pm (although I agree that would be a very long day, but at least the option is there). Here, I will have to use a childminder until my kids are old enough to stay home unsupervised, which is not going to happen for many years...

6- Far away friends

I usually go home once a year to see my family and the friends who still live in the area. The thing is,  I have really good friends I haven't seen for years because they live in a different part of France (or even other countries) and the hardest thing is not knowing when I'll see them again. Organising a trip is just too complicated and the other solution would be for them to come to Ireland, but I guess we all have our life and if it's complicated for me, it's the same for them... However, to all those friends (you know who you are), I would just say: "The door is open, you are welcome whenever you want!"

I've realised I can live without many things I had in France. I just have a different life and learned to adapt... What about you, what do you miss from your home country?

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


I came across that article on The Journal website a few days ago and it got me thinking...

In that opinion piece, the author, a twenty-something Nigerian, explains that even if he's Irish, the Irish don't know he's Irish (hope you're following me there...). He explains he feels Irish at heart, but his origins are always a matter of discussion, in a negative way. As an example, he takes the usual question everyone asks to start a conversation "Where are you from"?, and thinks that it's an implicit form of racism that can be psychologically damaging for immigrants. 

I always get that question as well. But to be honest, I don't get offended and why should I? It is a valid question after all. Usually my accent gives it away so of course people are going to ask me where I'm from! My Mauritian husband used to be asked the same thing all the time when he worked in a hotel. In fairness, there weren't many black people in the area at the time so it was only natural Irish people were wondering where he was from. He played a lot with it. He's very good at accents, so sometimes, just for the craic, he would put on his best Dublin accent and tell them he was from Swords. The look on their face was priceless. I think Irish people in general are just curious, and I definitely don't think it's racism in disguise. Sure, Cork people get slagged by Dubliners all the time (and the opposite is true as well).

Do I personally feel Irish at heart? The answer is "sometimes". I feel proud if Ireland wins some sports competition, if there are positive news about the country or if an Irish artist makes it worldwide. I love Ireland, the culture, the way of life, the people. I can definitely speak English and I can even manage to pull off a Dublin accent at times. I love eating a good Irish breakfast, spending time in the local pub with friends, and I work with Irish people.

But does all that make me Irish? I don't think so. Maybe I am more Irish than I think, but in my mind I will always be French (and Breton but that's a more complicated debate). I was raised in France and only came here as an adult so, even if I'm fully integrated, I will never be completely Irish. Even if I owned an Irish passport I think I would only be "nearly Irish" (Now you understand the name of the blog!). And I'm totally fine with that. 

Now, if you ask my kids, they'll probably tell you they're Irish. But that's because they're living here since they're born. And that's fine too. I just hope they won't forget they have French and Mauritian roots.

The author of the article has obviously spent most of his life in Ireland, so I can understand why he feels more Irish than Nigerian, and that's OK. I just think it's nearly impossible for someone who goes abroad as an adult to completely assimilate to his new country to the point of denying where he comes from. 

We should embrace our origins. I'm proud of being French and I'm proud of being so well integrated in Ireland. I also hope my kids will be proud to have been raised in three different cultures...even if I know they'll be Irish first!

Monday, 10 August 2015

The hairdresser

Afraid of the hairdresser? Don't be. You'll never come out looking like that!

Judging by the amount of posts on Facebook about finding a French speaking hairdresser in Dublin, it looks like a touchy subject. Somehow, the majority of French girls seems to be afraid of getting their hair done in this country.

I used to be one of them. It wasn't really because a language barrier but more the financial aspect of the whole operation. Going to the hairdresser in Ireland is very expensive compared to France, but I've noticed in recent years a drop in prices, probably due to the recession. I used to get my hair done while on holidays in France or Mauritius and only booked an appointment in Peter Mark when it was an absolute necessity.

Having said that, I only get my hair cut about twice a year and highlights when I start freaking out about my grey hair (which sadly is happening more and more).  And I don't know if it's true (or me just not caring about my hair that much), but I've always thought Irish girls were kind of obsessed with their hair. I mean, only in Ireland can you find hair straighteners in the airport or the night-club toilets!

Although I used to avoid the hairdresser for financial reasons, I never thought of it as a daunting experience. I usually bring a picture of what I want to look like, and it never quite ends up the way I want, but neither does it in France. I've always been very trusting towards hairdressers and have no problem leaving my entire fate in their hands. I'm not saying there weren't unsuspected results sometimes, but I never left a salon crying.  

My favourite thing about the hairdresser in Ireland is the massaging chair you lie down on while having you hair washed. I even fell asleep the other day I was so comfortable. Now this is something the French salons could take note of...

If I can give any advice to all French or foreign girls who are afraid because they think their English is not good enough, just give it a go! It is part of your experience living abroad. You might feel a bit confused the first time, but one thing for sure, it will give you memories, new hairstyles ideas and definitely more vocabulary.