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Archive for June, 2009

OMG

OMG, I’m panic stricken ! Hubby has invited loads of our friends over tomorrow night for a BBQ but has no clear plan of who’s bringing what, what we’re going to serve to eat etc. Last time he tried to organise this type of thing I sat back, watch him do it and then listen to him call in Pizza…

Now, I have exactly one day to come up with a plan, clean the house and cook the food. Oh yeah, and do my normal day job as well. Fingers crossed x

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French Kitchens

Why is it so often that a French kitchen consists of just a sink ? I used to ask myself this question a lot years ago when I was looking for a place to rent and I was reminded of the impracticalities of this tradition this weekend when I helped a family member move home.

How can a nation that loves it’s food so much be so inadequately equipped when it comes to kitchens? Maybe it is because people take their beloved ovens etc with them when they move? Why don’t houses always come with fitted kitchens like in the UK?

Maybe its my British roots and our need to always have a lovely fitted kitchen that have coloured my opinion with regards to this but it is still hard to get my head around and my French hubby does agree.

There are kitchen shops here and the kitchens are lovely. Even IKEA sells fitted kitchens and with all the appliances you can get a decent kitchen for a few thousand Euros. A minimalist kitchen would come in at under a 1000 Euro so why aren’t people catching on? Is it for some reason I’m unaware of?

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Lettre Recommandée

Oh la la ! Opened up the letter box the other day to find I had an Avis de Passage (a note from the postman to say that he had tried to deliver a Lettre Recommandé and I needed to pick it up at the post office). A Lettre Recommandé is a letter that needs to be signed for and is usually important.

On looking closely at the note, I realised that it wasn’t in neither my name or my hubby’s name but shock, horror, my UK businesses name. It then dawned on me that we would have fun and games getting the letter from the French La Poste as they are notorious for being sticklers on paperwork and everything having to match just so.

You see, as my UK business isn’t registered in France, I don’t have any of the official documents La Poste would ask to see in order to know that it is truly me. No Kbis, no utility bill so no proof of address = no letter.

Hubby had a brainwave and suggested I print of all my UK Company house documents showing that the business is in the UK and I am a director. Therefore any He even offered to go to the post office and pick up the letter as he knew I dreaded any contact with the post office works.

Actually quite clever that, he knew that if I went I’d be in a stinking mood for hours and probably wind up having a slanging match with a post office worker. Yes, it has already happened. More than once.

A couple of hours after, Hubby returns with the letter! Youpee! He said I’d rather not know what happened but at least he got the letter (he assures me it wasn’t violent).
La Poste 0 – Hubby 1

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In a right pickle over tax matters – why is nothing ever simple ?

After spending all of yesterday morning with our French Expert Comptable (an expert accountant?) completing our income tax return, my blonde hair has now taken on a shade of grey.

In the three hours we were there, we spent two hours, forty five minutes deciding on our tax position, completed no less than 4 different returns for four parts of our income and during fifteen minutes discussed how much income tax we would pay (les impots) and how much CRDS tax we would pay on top of that (CRDS is a tax which everyone pays to help clear the debt in the French social security. It is paid on top of your income tax). Did I mention that this was our second appointment and that we were there two hours for the first one?

Turned out we don’t have any tax to pay, in fact they owe us money. YES! Oh no, tax is just Les Impots, don’t forget the CRDS the accountant said – you must pay that. I am bemused. How can they pay me back tax and yet I still need to pay thousands of Euros to clear the debt in the social security system here?

Also, why do they not understand that if there is debt due to how the healthcare system is run, they are not solving the problem unless they change how it is run. Is it that hard to realise that giving someone a box of 30 tablets when they only need 7 is a far more expensive way of running the system and thus lining the pockets of the various drug companies.

So that’s sorted, just need to sort out ongoing argument between UK and French accountant about where our tax residency lies now. Next year, I will have forward planned and everything will be so much more simple. :)

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Since marrying my French husband nearly two years ago, I’ve always congratulated myself on the relationship I have with my parents in law. We get on like a house on fire, despite me being English and having rather different views on life, the economy, food, families, careers… pretty much everything really! They choose to accept me for who I am; I make their son happy and us getting on well means that we see each other regularly so everyone’s happy.

Anyway, all that changed last Autumn when my husband’s grandmother got divorced, upped sticks and moved to live in the same Provencal village as my hubby’s parents.

Its as if, overnight, a witch moved in and every time we visit his parent’s she digs her claws in a little further. For example, this woman has been divorced no less than 3 times now, has never managed to maintain a stable relationship and doesn’t have anyone that she considers as a friend. And yet, she chooses to criticize every part of my marriage, the way I treat her blessed Grandson and everything about me.

Things came to a head at Christmas when I had the flu and she told me to pretend I wasn’t ill so my hubby wouldn’t worry. I told her it was none of her business and that it was rich coming from someone in her position. Maybe I should have bitten my tongue but I dread going to see the parents-in-law as she is always there, staring at me and scotched to my husband like a pot of superglue!

I now maintain a polite relationship with her to try and avoid creating waves. Even that she has a problem with, and this weekend she stopped answering me when I ask her a question.

The family are starting to notice though as yesterday she spectacularly blanked me at the dinner table in front of everyone! Needless to say that the French dinner table is a sacred place and time for family and this type of behaviour does not go unnoticed! Hubby declared that we wouldn’t be staying on to spend the Pentecote holiday with them as we’d be leaving that afternoon. Moral support greatly appreciated!

Is it because I’m English and she believes that her Grandson should be with someone French? I don’t think so, I truly believe that she is just bitter and wants to keep her family for herself. After all, they’re all she has left.

Fingers crossed that my next encounter will go smoothly, thankfully I have the parents-in-law coming to stay next weekend. Now just have to worry about what to cook and making sure the house is clean and tidy.

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