Monthly Archives: October 2015

Happy Halloween!

Carcassonne chateau at night

Carcassonne chateau at night

We took this photo last week from the old bridge, you know the one built in 1359 in Carcassonne, of the castle. They light it up every night but somehow the lighting this time seemed perfect for Halloween. I wonder what kind of candy we’ll be giving out next year? BIll says

Caught in the act!

Caught in the act!

“Bon bons”!

As for this year you can see what we’ll be giving out. Can you guess who’s hand that is in the cookie jar?

And we thought France was cheap

Yachts in Barcelona harbor

Yachts in Barcelona harbor

You’ve already read a couple of blog posts about the cost of living in the southwest part of France and I’m certain that there will be more. In fact, in the works is another section of the blog that will show monthly budgets of other Americans living in different parts of the country plus we’ll include our own expenses as well.

While in Barcelona this month we had ample opportunity to visit shops, restaurants, markets, and supermarkets to get an idea of what it might cost to live here and it seemed pretty cheap. Restaurant meals in the 10 to 12 euro range abound including an appetizer or dessert with the main course plus a glass of local wine adding only 2 euro to the bill. Fresh fruits and vegetables, coming from only miles away were especially affordable. Drinkable bottles of wine from the supermarket start at just over 1 euro. Yes, really.

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Is Gaudi gaudy?

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

Earlier this month we were in Barcelona for a few days before moving on up to Carcassonne. Since this was our first visit to this Spanish city of 1.6 million people, where the amount of things to do and see is overwhelming, we had to choose an area of concentration. It’s only 2 1/2 hours by train from where we’ll be living, so we’ll be back to see what we missed. This time around it was all about Antoni Gaudi, the Catalan architect known for his unique and some might say outlandish style reflected in buildings including the Sagrada Familia cathedral. Read the rest of this entry

No man is an island

When Bill was looking online for a new computer he was surprised at the high cost which was almost double the price we had paid for my laptop about a year ago. In keeping with a variation on our new “double or nothing” concept, we wanted one computer to replace both his dying laptop plus our larger and more robust desktop that handles most everything household from banking to scheduling the lights, music, the thermostat, on and on. To try to get the price down he started downgrading the computer by decreasing the memory, choosing a slower processor, and getting a smaller screen. At that point I asked him if this was the time to be scrimping. After all, we would be replacing two computers with one and taking it to a place where we are far from fluent in the language. Although I can carry on a casual conversation in French, it doesn’t typically include words like ram, processor, pixel, and HDMI nor inquiring about computer repairs and upgrades. Initially I think that we’ll need to function as independently as possible as we begin to fit in and avoid feeling isolated.

Tenpound Island, St. George, ME

Tenpound Island, St. George, ME

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We converted

Metric to English

Metric to English

When we were first setting up this blog I was hoping to find an app for the sidebar where you could easily convert metric measurements into those more commonly used in the UK and US. Since that hasn’t shown up yet, there’s a chart below where you’ll find some shortcuts. It’s what we use when we’re on the continent to figure out a more familiar amount. To make it easy, though, here are the four that I’ll mention the most:

  • Euro to Dollar: don’t bother (see why below)
  • Kilometer to Miles: just halve the km
  • Kilograms to Pounds: just double the kg
  • Degrees C to F: double the degrees C and add 30

These are not exact but will give you a general idea without having to consult your smart phone.
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Cathar(sis) country

Our new hometown, Carcassonne, is situated in southwest France right in the heart of Cathar country. It only seems fitting, therefore, that we should have had a catharsis this morning with the emptying of our closets. It was quite freeing to let go of clothes that we purchased as recently as a few months ago to our tuxedos that we bought when we lived in Chicago nearly 30 years ago. cummerbundsAnd why did we need five cummerbunds and matching bow ties that you see here? Those tuxes used to accompany us on an annual cruise and we certainly could not show up from one year to the next with the same accessories. By skillful trading of cummerbunds, ties, studs, and cufflinks, we were able to come up with “new” outfits for quite a few cruises. Read the rest of this entry

The electric vampire

French electrical outlet

French electrical outlet

This morning I was in the kitchen pouring a cup of coffee when I heard Bill talking. I knew that it was way too early for him to have telephoned anyone so naturally I was curious. When I walked back to the office he was there in front of the computer talking to it. What?? You may remember that a few weeks ago we got a new large laptop computer to replace a smaller one that was on its last legs plus our big desktop, neither of which were going to go with us to France. The new machine has Windows 10 with your own personal assistant called Cortana that understands spoken commands. (Yes, yes, Apple users, Siri was years ahead.)

When I asked Bill if he were talking to me he replied, “No, I was asking Cortana to turn on the computer and open up the email. I didn’t want to have to push a button.” Read the rest of this entry

Renestance

French Retirement Dream

A year in Périgord

Tales of a Brit who stopped in Lille on his way to Périgord – and stayed

Southern Fried French

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

wcs

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

Chez Loulou

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

The Vicious Cycle

A man searches for meaning...in between leg shavings

Post-Industrial Eating

Just another WordPress.com weblog

An Italian Point Of View

Alan and Tracy's Expat Adventures