Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

I am a horder. A serial horder. I keep pretty much everything, to me everything has a place in my home, a story and a reason to be here. Even if it is a t-shirt which still has all of it’s tags and has never been worn outside of the shop changing room.

Clothes and accessories are my main problem areas, but as our poor relatives who got roped in to helping us pack and unpack when we moved witnessed, my hoarding doesn’t stop there. Plates, apertif dishes, cutlery, books, pots and pans, dust pan and brushes… you name it, I’ve got it.

Mr Piglet despairs at my hoarding. We spent a fortune in storage when we moved just because I have so much stuff. And recently it has become just that to me, stuff.

You may ask why I have waited until now, why not get rid of it sooner? After all, in the last 10 years I have had two international moves and another move which made me homeless for 3 months whilst pregnant.

Having Baby Piglet has helped me gain a lot of perspective and suddenly I’m not so desperate to hang on to all of these material belongings. Okay, I’m not suddenly going to give away by Dior bags or Jimmy Choo shoes, but I have come to terms with the fact that even if I did manage to shrink myself back down to a size 10, my tastes have changed and I would quite frankly prefer to start again.

Don’t get me wrong, I have some lovely clothes which I would wear again in a shot if I could, but I also feel that if I lose the weight I deserve the reward of getting to go shopping for new stuff. Right? Not to mention that right now I would like to open my wardrobe and see stuff that I can wear, not stuff that is all too small that it makes me depressed.

So yesterday I started clearing out my wardrobe. Emptying boxes and bags and sorting through everything. I took many pictures and started listing everything on Ebay. There was no pity. I want this stuff gone. And so starts my Ebay Wardrobe Challenge. By the end of the Spring, I hope to have cleared my wardrobe, lost some weight and started shopping for replacement clothes.

Now I just have to decide whether to part with my shoe and handbag collections, forever faithful no matter what my size.

Please help me by spreading the word. If you can share the link to my Ebay page here or my Facebook page here or my twitter feed here I would be really grateful. Doing a car boot sale isn’t practical with a baby and a Husband that works weekends, so Ebay is my best hope of completing my challenge. Unless of course you can think of any other ways (other than an open house)?

Read Full Post »

So this is a rant. It’s been a while and I’ve been keeping my rantiness to myself, but my patience has come to the end of it’s tether with some French internet companies.

As a new Mum, buying online should be an easy way of getting the things I need, delivered to my new rural address quickly and easily and without needing to trek to nearby large cities like Lyon or Grenoble with Baby Piglet.

Or so I thought.

Since Baby Piglet has arrived I have had no end of bad experiences with various companies and my patience is really wearing thin.

My biggest complaint is with companies such as Oclio and Kiria saying they have items in stock, accepting my money and then once I’ve ordered sending me emails saying that the item won’t be delivered for a few weeks because out of stock. Fast forward a few weeks and still no news.

In fairness, Oclio did eventually deliver albeit 4 weeks after the original advertised delivery date, but as for Kiria they have neither delivered nor refunded me my money (which they told me at the beginning of July they would do within 7 days).

I’m becoming increasingly irate with Kiria as their customer service department is hell to reach (they have several numbers) and emails remain unanswered. Currently they owe me 113 Euros and I’m really beginning to wonder whether I will get to see them again sometime soon. Am I funding a flailing internet business which fails to understand why customer service is important in the online world?

It is apparent to me that they have blatantly failed to understand their target market – new Mum’s wanting to order items hassle free, quickly, online! Babies grow quickly so are likely to soon out grow any item we get for them if we have to wait months on end for it to arrive!

Vertbaudet is another French internet company I have ordered from and I have to say their level of service has been exemplary thus far. Kiria and Oclio should take note. Whilst some items have been out of stock, I have been kept up to date every step of the order and the out of stock items were delivered on the date they told me that they would be. Perfect, what more could I ask for (aside from their online stock being up to date which it seems in France is never the case)?

What got me ranting this morning was waking up to remember that I still need to chase Kiria for my money back and also remembering that I still hadn’t taken delivery of the two bean bags I had ordered from Usineadesign.com at the end of June. Delivery was promised within 15 days and I’ve not had any news yet. Yet another company to chase!

With new Mummy brain, keeping track of these companies incompetence is rattling my cage and annoying me. Making me waste time and seriously getting up my nose.

What good or bad internet shopping experiences have you had lately? Any good website recommendations in France are welcomed :)

Read Full Post »

No where for me to spend my Euros!

I wish I could close. Shut down for a month. Not answer any calls, any emails – just bugger off and leave a sign like this:

Shop notice saying they're closed from 25th July to 26th August

This is a common occurrence in France unless you live in an area popular with tourists such as the Cote d’Azur, but for us mortels that are not lucky enough to live in a place so desirable that everyone else wants to come and visit, we are stuck with the majority of shops being closed!

It’s true that the streets of Lyon are pretty much deserted at the moment, but wandering aimlessly to my Osteo appointment this morning I really thought it was a Sunday. I walked down a whole street, 1.2 kilometres and every single shop was closed! This was in a middle class neighbourhood and there were plenty of people buzzing around in the nearby market so surely proof that not everyone had gone on holiday?

I do not know why shops here and elsewhere in France shut down for a whole month and as a business owner I feel that it is ludicrous. I really wish I could either join in or that the shops would open again!

Read Full Post »

Rather than write about politics and the UK Election results today I thought I’d share a recent gastronomical experience with you.

My French family in law are quite the gastronomes and my Belle-Mere is such a good cook it’s a really daunting experience whenever I have to cook for them. I’m sure everyone knows someone like her; the type of person who can throw together a feast from nothing and who can easily follow a recipe and have the food come out looking like it’s supposed to.

Anyway, last Sunday I was brave enough to face the supermarket after everything in France closed on the Saturday for the Fete de Travail national holiday. It was a nice change to visit a different supermarket in a different area of France and I leisurely strolled around admiring all the produce which I could buy (but didn’t as I had to take back a sofa suite to Lyon – see yesterdays Jardinage Jeudi). At lunch I was commenting on how my beaux parents (BP) were lucky to have such a wonderful choice of interesting produce in their local supermarket.

You can buy all types of things that I’ve never seen in Lyon, such as delicate little cheeses filled with fig or honey for the aperitif, fig bread or olive sticks for dipping. Our conversation continued as we each recalled different produce that we purchase and enjoy.

Then the conversation turned to things that we couldn’t find anymore and my Beau-Pere mentioned that they couldn’t buy buns anymore. I immediately thought he was referring to a sweet delicacy that I was obviously missing out on given how highly he was speaking of them. I was then really confused when everyone started talking about the pros and cons of Bolognese and Leek fillings.

I’m proud to say that I didn’t cotton on, as ready-made frozen food isn’t really my thing (except for Picard, but that’s another story) so I eventually asked. As it turns out they were talking about frozen fast food, no less than McCain’s Buns!

Now who would have thought that you would hear such a conversation at a French dinner table? Not me for sure and it’s not exactly what I thought I would be hearing from my In-laws!

A really missed delicacy - My French BP's cannot find these in their local supermarket!

Read Full Post »

When we were living back in the UK for a few years, I often used to reminisce on how much I missed French markets. Whenever we came back to France for holidays or business, I would always be quick to identify where the nearest market would be and would do everything I could to ensure I was able to go. Hubby would often then be quick to point out that when we were living in France I’d never go to the market, except on the rare occasions my parents came to visit. Yet, I had the option to go if I wanted.

Where we based in the UK that option didn’t exist, the only markets we had were once a month when we were lucky enough to have a farmers market – but you cannot compare the measly show of produce at the farmers market with the fabulous 5 sense experience of an authentic French market.

So, yesterday, I had a ‘I’m going to live the French life’ moment. I hauled my sorry backside off the sofa at the very unheavenly (for me) time of 9am and got dressed up for market day! Getting dressed up didn’t mean heels and lippy for me as it would for many French women, but I lost the Crocs and put on a trench instead of a fleece. After dusting off my bright orange shopping trolley (always known to me as a Granny bag), off I set, avoiding the cumbersome dog poop on the way, to visit my local Villeurbanne market in Les Grattes Ciel.

The sun was shining and as I advanced on my walk the streets got busier and busier. So much for the super chic French women I was expecting to encounter though, this was more the polyester and viscose parade. Obese women dressed in brightly colored bags hanging over their bodies and looking like they’d gone out in their slippers. So much for loosing the Crocs! Okay, so Villeurbanne isn’t exactly the 6th Arrondisement its Lyons poor neighbor or sometimes falsely called Lyon’s 10th Arrondisement. Les Grattes Ciel is the quartier where I live; it’s a perfectly acceptable working class neighborhood traditionally inhabited by Italian immigrants and built during the Art Deco era.

I’m slumming it here market wise though, my Beaux Parents (doesn’t Beautiful Parents in French sound better than the In Laws in English?) live in Provence and we’ve always been spoilt for choice on deciding which market to go to whenever we visit them. As they’re surrounded by beautiful villages and markets they’ve become a bit blasé about the whole thing, but they still humor me 11 years on whenever we go to visit even. It has to be said the markets in Provence are absolutely fantastic.

Summer Market in Provence, photo taken in 2009


Provencal Market - The must had Olive Stand. Photo taken in 2009

Back to my market. Approaching the market I stop to get cash and avoid my first two beggars (mendiants) next to the cash machine. Cash in purse, I continue, dodging the Polyester Brigade and continuing with purpose. Next I’m asked to vote for someone about our pensions and I politely explain to the bewildered man that I don’t have any right to vote so it’s useless him talking to me, then I avoid no less than two more beggars before finally arriving in the market.

This market doesn’t take place in a fancy market square, but in large car park flanked by scrubby buildings on one side and the back of the Art Deco buildings on the other. My first sight of the market was not, unfortunately for my eyes, wonderful displays of fruit and veg, but polyester tops costing no less than 5 Euros. I had arrived in the clothing section. Fighting my way through bustle of the clothes section and mildly interested in the cheap socks for sale (until I remembered they’d probably be made from polyester instead of cotton) I battled my way into the food section.

Relief. This is what I’d come to savor. Fresh produce all around me, the beautiful reds of the tomatoes, greens of the peppers, and hold on what is this? Yellows of bananas? All the way from Colombia! It was surprising how much stuff was imported, so much for buying local, seasonal produce for tuppence.

I was in luck though and I continued on my mission filling up my trolley as I went along. A whole pan of green chilies for just 1 Euro, even a free lemon on when stand when I said to the lady that she could keep the 4 cents change she was due to give me.

A mental note was made of the delicious smelling spice stand I saw as well as the fishmongers and butchers. I didn’t need any of this yesterday and didn’t buy as I’d already planned my meals but it’s good to know if it is needed. I did manage to spend over 20 Euros though and I have a Granny bag full of stuff that I’m not yet sure what I’ll do with, but it was good fun and I felt healthy.

I was embarrassed to take pictures as this certainly wasn’t your traditional tourist market. People were not lingering here, no-one was having a gentle traipse around the market for something to be done, everyone had a sense of purpose and I didn’t dare take too many photos for fear of being branded a fool. Why I was worried what people thought I don’t really know, but I did manage to whip out the photo whilst paying at one stand so I could share here. Not the best photo you’ll see of a French market though!

Les Grattes Ciel Market - A rather nice stall.

Seriously lacking for me were the delights of the Provencal market; the fresh olives and tapenade stands, wine, saucisson even cheese. But I’m happy with my market, whilst the clothing is not to my taste from what I immediately saw, it merits to be explored but maybe on another occasion. As for the food, well functional and exactly what I needed and who knows, as we advance into the summer maybe the produce will become more seasonal as I’m not sure much is even grown in April anyway.

Read Full Post »

Sometimes I think that I’m just not meant to cook! I mean, for months my induction hob had slowly been passing away and at the end I only had one measly ring left working on it, so cooking anything that required two pans (or more!) instantly became a logistical nightmare.

At the beginning of February I had hoped that all that would change when Hubby and I agreed to buy a new one. We had hoped to get the old one repaired, but when we discovered how excessively expensive it was to get it repaired and that the reparations were only guaranteed 3 months (yes, just three months for brand new pieces – that just goes to show how much confidence the manufacturer has in them!) we decided it was just better to buy new!

So after weeks of waiting last Friday, my brand new shiny black induction hob was delivered. Only, it wasn’t any good. After all are careful measuring we had managed to order the wrong size. Disaster! Yet more juggling with the pans in the kitchen!

Not wishing to have to wait another month for a new one to arrive, we made the decision to order at trustworthy Darty. We could get their guarantee extension and be delivered on Monday. Youpee!! Hubby managed to negotiate the price down to a reasonable level and we ordered knowing that we were putting our money with a trustworthy company.

So, Monday came and the guys from Darty delivered and installed the new hob. Fantastic until I saw how clumsy they were. Imagine two great big hulks that look like they’re stood on a ball (a bit like a bowling alley pin) rather than standing on two legs. They managed to break a Champagne glass within the first five minutes, and oh, yes, they also managed to break my Dietrich fitted microwave. They literally pulled the door off thinking that they could remove it from its unit by pulling the door really really hard!

Darty being Darty, they immediately arranged for someone to come round and repair the microwave. They came yesterday but quickly admitted defeat when they saw the level of damage their colleagues had caused. They needed to order a new door – which takes a minimum of a week to arrive! So, now I can’t use my microwave and all the extra portions I’d cooked on Sunday for Tuesday evening have had to go to waste as I can’t heat them up!

Given that I didn’t have anything else we could eat as everything needed to be re-heated thank goodness for Plats du Monde, a restaurant delivery service! We were able to order good Mexican food from them yesterday and be delivered within the evening without it costing a fortune and still being able to eat reasonably healthy at the same time (unlike most takeaway food). The food comes from the actual restaurant and is from their restaurant menu so you’re getting the same as if you actually went there which is good. It was really great and very very tasty even if one of the Burritos was a bit too hot for me! Next time we’re going to try Indian!

Mexican Restaurant Lyon - El Sombrero

Mexican Restaurant Lyon - El Sombrero

So, the microwave is out of action for the foreseeable future and I’ve just wasted a load of food which I’d cooked on Sunday so my kitchen conundrums are still not over!

Being British I think I’m going to write a letter of complaint and see if I can get some cash out of Darty – I mean, because of them I’ve been deeply inconvenienced and had to order food in from a restaurant!

Read Full Post »

Its been a long time since I’ve worn a pair of tracksuit bottoms at any time other than when I’ve been working out. When I heard that they were “in-trend” this season my thoughts wandered back to when shell suits were all the rage, surely this can’t be fashionable?

According to the fashionistas and all the forward thinking fashion followers, tracksuit bottoms worn with heels are going to be everywhere this year.

In an article about tracksuit bottoms, The Times has stated that the trend is likely to catch on as any trend that is “lazy” is always a hit. They’re thinking Uggs, leggings, skinny jeans – all easy to follow and ideal for the lazy fashion follower. Not to mention the high street can easily copy this look as opposed to fancy tailored looks.

The likes of Vicky Pollard from Little Britain have been wearing them for years, but bewared, that is not how they are to be worn!! Trainers are a definite no-no and your old Adidas pants just won’t do!Vicky Pollard in Little Britain - a definite NON!

So, if you get the right pair of pants and wear them with the right heels and a nice top what’s to loose?

Sure, there’s nothing hard about wearing a pair of tracksuit bottoms but will it really catch on in France? I’ve noticed that the French are generally a couple of seasons behind in fashion trends. For example, in 2006 I came to France in leggings and mini skirt, topped off with patent escarpins – perfectly normal for the UK, I didn’t consider it a far flung looks – the shoes were a bit awkward to walk miles in but you know, it was just what everyone was wearing. In France, the Parisians just looked at me as if I’d arrived from another planet not to mention my sister in law who’s just a bit younger than me. Fast forward to 2008 and the shops are full of similar clothes! See, I could have been a fashion consultant for them!!!

I’m going to start hunting for the perfect pair of pants now as lazy seems good to me and suits where I am in my life – rapidly approaching 30 and beginning to feel frumpy, yet can’t be too bothered to do anything about it. I’ll probably have to go back to the UK or order them online as I doubt I’ll be able to find any in France as yet, but I wonder what my friendly Frenchies will think of this? No doubt they will all think I’m mad and wonder what on earth I’m wearing, or maybe they’ll remember some of the other trends they saw me in first? Either way, they all think I’m an eccentric English girl so what’s to loose? Its something fashionable I can wear without breaking the bank and can be flattering for my extra kilos. And should I need to run somewhere I can just ditch the heels and go!

How to wear tracksuite bottoms fashionably!

How to wear tracksuite bottoms fashionably!

Read Full Post »

Urge to Shop

I feel like doing some clothes shopping now that I’ve dropped a few kilos. Yes, I have loads of too small clothes already but feel like spending some hard earned Euros after a frightfully busy work week. Where to start? My favourite site Vente Privée is closed for summer, Achat VIP has nothing left of interest and I haven’t a clue what size I am on the other sites. Next deliver to France now, so maybe worth flashing the cash there?

Maybe I’ll hit the local shops tomorrow, will have to convince Hubby to come with me as really don’t fancy going it alone – we’ve hardly seen each other all week. Hmmm, if only I knew when my trip to England was going to be and I could get rid of this urge knowing that I’ll spend spend spend whilst I’m there! Why England? Well, French shoe shops don’t seem to stock many size 7 shoes!!!!!

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 119 other followers