I’ve always been fascinated by children’s names. As a teacher, learning – and remembering – the names of your students is extremely important. I have always been interested in the fashion for first names and how this was reflected in my class register. I remember, one year, when I was teaching in London and had a class full of Kylies!
Of course, when it came to naming our two sons, there was another problem. Certain names immediately conjure up memories of naughty boys. I’m being very polite here! We also have a long and unusual surname. In the end, we went for very traditional, ancient names. They are both Biblical names but, to be honest with you, that is coincidental.
When I taught, in France, it was a similar story with certain English names being very popular. However, I was very surprised when Kevin topped the list of most popular boys names, in France. This is how you pronounce it in French!
This is the top 10 girls names in France, at the moment, according to my research in various French magazines and on several websites:
And here are the boys:
I think there are some lovely names, some interesting names and some surprising ones. What do you think? Do you have a favourite first name? I’d love to know!
We have just returned from a five day house and dog sit in central Brighton.
The owners of the lovely little Lurcher, pictured above, had left us with plenty of recommendations for places where we could eat, so we decided it would be rude not to try at least some of them!.
One of the reasons we like Brighton and Hove is because there is such a diverse range of restaurants and cafés. I love that it is so easy to find excellent vegetarian and vegan food and that all the places we visited were within walking distance of the house.
Here are the 5 recommendations, ordered only by when we visited them:
This is a very homely café which is well known for its all-day breakfasts and massive hash browns. All the hashes are made to order with various toppings. There are plenty of vegetarian options, too. Having seen the size of the hashes, I wimped out and went for the Welsh Rarebit which came with a generous and delicious side salad. This was more Hare-sized, than rabbit, but I somehow managed to eat it all. Will definitely go back and next time have a hash … garlic mushroom and avocado is calling to me! Below is my husband’s hash. I tried a piece and it was yummy.
This is the Brighton Beach branch which is situated in the Kings Road Arches. It was the perfect place for us to stop after a long walk along the beach with the dog! It’s a dog friendly café and has a very welcoming atmosphere. The only problem is what to eat, as there are so many delicious choices. I had a lentil and mushroom roll, the veggie equivalent of a sausage roll! This was followed by a slice of flourless chocolate cake. Mr FF had a pie which did have meat and, instead of having a cake, decided to try the mushroom and lentil roll.
Here is Edie, in the café, hoping for a doggy treat!
Bincho Yakitori was very different to anywhere I have eaten before and is probably best described as Japanese tapas! There are a variety of small sharing dishes on the menu with the addition of daily specials. Everything is cooked to order. Our choices included the Tempura Sea Bream, Pork Belly and mushroom rice. We had some others as well which I can’t remember but I do know that everything we had was delicious!
You can’t possibly stay in Brighton and Hove without having fish and chips! This particular venue was recommended by our hosts and was very local. We opted to eat in, rather than take away, on this occasion. I’m not a fan of greasy food, particularly when it comes to the batter on my fish! I’m happy to report that everything was fresh and beautifully cooked. We had mushy peas and Mr FF also had bread so that he could make a chip butty. You can’t take him anywhere! This was all washed down with a very tasty bottle of white wine.
Last but not least was the Western Road branch of Foodilic. We actually lunched here twice! The emphasis is on healthy eating and there is something for everyone; vegetarians, vegans and carnivores but I would say the emphasis is on the former. The buffet (eat as much as you like) is incredible value at £7.50 and everything I chose was delicious. I had vegetarian moussaka accompanied with some excellent salads including roasted vegetables, lentils and spinach. I felt spoilt for choice! Mr FF even managed a raw cake for dessert. He chose pistachio and mint, pictured below.
Although we were very unlucky with the weather, we still had a fantastic stay and walked miles and miles every day which is the great advantage of having a dog. In light of everything we ate, this was probably just as well and we thoroughly enjoyed trying out all these new food venues!
I love pancakes or crêpes and welcome any opportunity to eat them! So, I’m delighted that today is Pancake Day. If you’re reading this in the UK, this may come as a surprise. Let me elaborate!
February 2nd, in France, is ‘La Fête de la Chandeleur.’ The name Chandeleur comes from the Latin ‘candelorum festum’, which means festival of candles and is also known as Candlemas.
Apparently it was Pope Gelasius I who helped to establish the festival of Candlemas and was said to have fed pancakes to the pilgrims who processed, holding candles, to his church.
Candlemas falls 40 days after Christmas and, in the Christian calendar, marks when baby Jesus was first presented, by Mary, in the Temple at Jerusalem.
However, the festival can be traced back to Roman times when candles were lit to scare away evil spirits in the winter.
In the UK pancake day 2019 will fall on March 5th; more pancakes!
As well as eating pancakes, I enjoy making them! They were always a go-to favourite with my sons and their friends, whether for tea, breakfast or sleep overs. There are many recipes for making pancakes but the one I have always used is by Delia Smith.
You may have read this post last year but when I saw the date, I couldn’t resist the chance to republish!
I couldn’t miss the opportunity to wish you ‘Happy National Croissant Day’! January 30th is International Croissant Day. This is a new celebration for me. One which comes from the States, apparently.
Although, to be honest, I’m more than happy to celebrate croissants every day. Especially if they happen to be almond croissants!
The croissant was originally created in Austria. The shape is based on a crescent moon which features on the Turkish flag. Why? Travel back to 1683 when the Ottoman Empire laid siege to Austria. The Turks decided to tunnel beneath the city walls.The Viennese bakers who were working in the basement, heard the sound of digging and alerted the army who defeated the Turks. In celebration, they baked their bread in the shape of a crescent moon—the symbol of the Ottoman Empire – and created the Kipferl. This croissant arrived in France in 1770. Marie Antoinette, who was Austrian, was feeling homesick. The French bakers decided to make her favourite pastry which became known as the “croissant”.
Of course, it’s difficult to know exactly how much of this is fact and how much is fiction!
Are you a croissant lover? Do you have a favourite croissant? Savoury, perhaps? Or are you a purist who prefers a classic, butter croissant? Are you a dunker? I’m definitely not!
I must confess that there was a time when I was rather dismissive of Reading; apologies to anyone who lives there or originates from the town.
The only part of Reading I really knew was the train station. I would pass through on the way to the West Country or up North, often for work.
Then two events meant that I got to know Reading a lot better. Firstly, my eldest son moved there for work and secondly, our first TrustedHousesitters assignment was in Reading.
There is much more to Reading than first meets the eye. There are some fabulous walks. There is a great deal of history. There is the University. There is the River and the Canal. There are a wide range of cafés and restaurants. There are shops. In fact I think I will do another post about Reading when I have some decent photos!
The only photos I do have, feature the two dogs we looked after in Reading! They were very young when we first looked after them. These photos were taken during a walk alongside the Thames.
Our night in Reading was to celebrate the birthdays of our eldest son and his girlfriend. They happen to share the same birthday, although not the same year. Mr FF also has a special birthday later this month, so it was celebrations all round! Youngest son joined us as well for a very special visit to ‘L’ Ortolan’.
L’Ortolan is the only Michelin restaurant in the Reading area and we decided to have the seven course tasting menu. This was a new experience for all of us. I don’t think the photos really do the food justice. My favourite dishes were the hake, the venison and the divine desert!
The restaurant is in a former vicarage in Shinfield which is actually just outside Reading. The service was everything I hoped it would be and more.
However, I must confess that I am not a fan of foams and gels. I do find them – dare I say – a bit pretentious or maybe that says more about me!
I also think we have been spoilt by the amazing food we have been enjoying in France, at both ends of the scale.
When we have saved up again – haha – I would quite like to return to L’Ortolan and have a ‘proper’ meal! Watch this space…
Here’s the link to the restaurant’s website, if you’d like to find out more:
… was my immediate reaction when a promotion for this book, by Mylène Desclaux, caught my attention.
I decided to find out some more. Through the power of the internet, it is now possible to dip inside a book and read a sample before you buy! There has also been a fairly widespread reaction to the book across the media; articles, reviews etc which I have been reading with some interest, cynicism and amusement, depending on who has written them.
However, I must confess that I haven’t read the whole book and it’s unlikely that I will.
In the last few years, we have been told that ‘French women don’t get fat’ and ‘French women don’t get facelifts’ and that’s just for starters.
Here are some of Mylène’s suggestions for feeling young at 50:
never have a birthday party – you don’t want to risk people finding out your real age
never wear reading glasses on a date
never keep a first name name that reflects your true age
Mylène (and I quote here) writes: ‘My experience has taught me that you should never, EVER, tell people your age… Being however old you are is nothing to be particularly proud of…’
WHAT? I am very proud and glad to be sixty-five. I know (knew) people who are no longer with us and would give anything, I’m sure to be fifty, sixty or just here. Thankfully, there are many writers and bloggers who celebrate age.
I’m afraid this post has turned into a bit of a rant but if you read my blog fairly regularly, you know my opinion of the stereotypical, chic French woman with which we are constantly being presented. I am a Francophile and have some wonderful French women friends who do not all conform to the image with which we are so often presented.
You may be interested in reading the most popular post I have ever written on this topic:
I hope you all had an enjoyable festive season. For me, it was wonderful to have all the family at home (plus two cats!) but I must admit that in some ways I’m looking forward to ‘normal’ life resuming. Although I know I will find the house very empty and quiet at first, I also need ‘my own space’ – apologies for over-used cliché!
New Year Resolutions are not for me but I am embracing ‘Dry January’, except for the two family birthdays we celebrate in January. Is that allowed, I wonder? Who cares? I’m setting my own rules on this… Especially as tomorrow we are going to be celebrating the first birthday with a seven course tasting menu, at a Michelin star restaurant, plus accompanying wines chosen to compliment each course.
As far as this blog is concerned, I do like to look back and see which posts have been the most popular. In 2018 in reverse order (!)
I’m not sure if I can draw any significant conclusions from this result … but it was fun looking!
When I looked back at my first post of last year, I remembered that I had made some plans for the blog. I said I would set up an Instagram account. I did manage this and I do enjoy it but – if I’m honest – I do prefer writing this blog.
However, I failed to update my profile and photo.
I have also moved my blog from a free WordPress one to a self-hosted one. And next? I’m going to try a new theme. Wish me luck and watch this space!