Monthly Archives: November 2018

A spoonful of sugar

Course announcement from Fun-Mooc website

You probably remember when Julie Andrews as the title character nanny in the film Mary Poppins was trying to get her two charges, Jane and Michael, to clean their room. To introduce the song she begins with “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun” and then the orchestra starts up and you soon hear her sing “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”. When you move to another country where they don’t speak your native language it’s important to learn what the local people are saying for a variety of reasons. Once you get past the survival level where you can at least get food and shelter then you can start fitting in with your new neighbors and having fun. But of course, language isn’t the only challenge since there are cultural differences, new rules to learn, and administrative procedures to follow for everything from buying a train ticket to seeing a doctor. Thanks to an online course sponsored by the French government’s Ministry of Higher Learning, you can combine all of those tasks in one place. Read the rest of this entry

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A cassoulet Thanksgiving

Hot from the oven

When we lived in America, Thanksgiving was always a big feast day from my earliest memories as a child right up to the November before we moved from the States a few months later. Now that we live in France we no longer celebrate that holiday but that doesn’t mean that we are deprived of the warm feelings that go along with sharing a huge meal with friends and family. In our blog post Sunday in the village I wrote about how we were accepted with open arms by the neighbors on our first street in Carcassonne and I’m proud and grateful to say that the relationship continues even though we are now a 30-minute walk away on an equally friendly street. The phrase “stranger in a strange land” didn’t apply to us for long thanks to the generosity of our new neighbors. With that as a background we readily accepted the invitation to join in on a meal of this area’s comfort food, cassoulet. Read the rest of this entry

When you mix oil with wine

Olive oil tasting bar

Growing up, I wanted to be a microbiologist until I got to college and found out that in addition to biology you had to also be good at chemistry. Bill’s a wiz at that but I still can’t tell the difference between emulsify, liquefy, and puree—unless those are blender settings, of course. That explains why, when I only caught snippets of the conversation between him and our friend Sally regarding something about oil and wine, I didn’t pay close attention. It was only when I saw them get out their calendars to schedule a day trip that I understood that we would be visiting an olive grove and a winery. Naturally there would have to be time for lunch, so let’s go! Read the rest of this entry

Travel Tips and Observations From Bill

First class on an Italian train

First of all we had a wonderful trip using the trains which allowed us to relax while enjoying the view of the countryside and sea. We do take our meals and apero snacks along with us when we are on the train to make sure we are well fed and have enough to drink at the appropriate times. It is possible on most of the major train lines to buy food but it is not always convenient to wait for your meals to be delivered to your seat (if you are in first class) that you might have pre-ordered and the menu pictures do not usually correspond with the items served. You might be able to save enough to add a nice bottle of wine with your lunch, apero or dinner by buying a nice salad, sandwich, cheese and sausage platter from a grocery before entering the station. Coffee brewed yourself is always better than they have the ability to serve on the trains. A half liter thermos is just about right for each of us for breakfast and is easy to pack and manage. One more thing to consider is that all trains do not have food on board so if you bring your own you know it will be there when you are ready. Read the rest of this entry

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