Thursday, October 24, 2013

French Kiss or Irish Hug?

Image from
The rhythm of life is so different here in Ireland than in France and our body clocks are just about getting used to the new timetables as we potter along in our new life in Clonakilty.
For one thing, we all miss "La Cantine" , that wonderful French luxury of a 4 course delicious 2 hour lunch at school. These days, Irish kids are given 20 minutes to wolf down their sambos and get out into the yard to play. The lunch box used to be a fairly simple affair in my day, now, the list of forbidden foods is the length of your arm :

  • Crisps
  • Chocolate or anything containing chocolate
  • Fizzy drinks or fruit drinks
  • Cereal bars
  • Biscuits
  • Nuts and anything containing nuts
  • Sweets or anything sweet etc etc

While I agree totally with the healthy eating concept, lunch box filling has become rather a challenge ( ideas welcome)
The kids finish school at 2pm and 3pm ( how handy is that - NOT!) For my two who are used to finishing at 5pm in France and then launching into homework, as far as they are concerned, they have a half day every day! Whoopeee! That 's a lot of hours to entertain them though! After school activities take place every evening, not just on Wednesdays ( their day off school en France)
For us adults living in a small town, social activities don't usually start until about 9pm or later! Dancing classes, toastmasters, music sessions, they all start after 9pm. In France, in sleepy suburbia, the shutters would be coming down and people bunkering down for the night. If you are going to the pub, you might start thinking about going out around 10pm or later. Huh? but that's way past our bedtime! I recently joined a running club and we start training at 8pm. As we finish at 9pm, there are others just starting!!
Setting a fire and drying clothes in front of it and watching the weather like a hawk for signs of rain when the clothes are out .. these are things I haven't done in over 18 years!
I still go to kiss people on each cheek when I meet them, resulting in usually head butting the recipient - It feels funny not to physically greet people you haven't seen in a few days ; a "howzitgoan?" will do. In place of the sterile French air kissing though, what you do have is the Irish hug. At a family gathering recently, it was a veritable hugathon as I got lost in Aunties' perfumed bosoms and long lost cousins' embraces.
French kissing 'aint all it's cracked up to be anyway ;-)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Buying shoes in Ireland

When you move to a new country or indeed back to your home country after being a period of 16 years away as we did, you have certain expectations.
In our case, we thought that the people in Ireland, our Mother land, would be friendlier, that bureaucracy would be easier, that socially,we would feel more at home and that we would live a more naturally rounded life with all that is going on in Clonakilty, our adopted new town.
For the most part , that has been true and we are lapping up all Ireland has to offer and every time we leave the house, we are blown away by the friendliness and helpfulness of everybody.
We do realise that nowhere is perfect ( Mr GetrealFrance's van was recently broken into while parked in Dublin with many of his tools swiped ), but for now , for us, it is ticking all our boxes.
I could give you hundreds of examples since I've been home of the generosity of the Irish spirit, that, quite frankly, I have never encountered anywhere else...
Take last week when I went shopping with my son for shoes in Clonakilty. We popped into the local shoe shop and tried on a few pairs that were not satisfactory ( Not fast enough Mummy!) for our little tearaway. With all the time in the world, the shop owner patiently played with Dylan, chatted to me and finally found the perfect pair of shoes for my budding Usain Bolt.
As the shoes had just arrived in that day, the guy had no invoice for them and therefore was unable to give us a price
"Sure just take the shoes away there girleen and drop in any day to pay me" says he
Flabbergasted, I offered to pay him a deposit, leave some kind of a down payment but he was having none of it. My word was good.
"I trust you. Take the shoes and call in any day next week and I'll have a price for you"
Now, that's what I call retail therapy!
Kevin O'Regans Shoes
8 Pearce Street,
(no affiliation!)
Which reminds me, I must go in and pay for them!!!!!

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