Blogging bits and bobs!

‘Confessions of a bad blogger’ was the other title I had in mind for this post!

This is mainly because I have been nominated for a blogging award and I have done nothing about it. I haven’t even thanked the blogger who nominated me. Sometimes life just gets in the way.
blogawardI have been nominated for a Blogger Recognition Award by Enzo Martinelli whose blog is called ‘Travel, good food, arts and more’ and can be found at https://enzomartinelli.wordpress.com/

Thank you, Enzo!

2B8DF9E5-15E0-4912-8D37-8C11A9119491Enzo writes on a variety of fascinating topics and he is multilingual. Impressive! Do have a look at Enzo’s blog. I’m sure you’ll find it interesting.

What is the Blogger Recognition Award?
It is an award that is given to bloggers by bloggers to encourage, acknowledge and promote the hard work and effort that goes into creating their blogs. It’s an opportunity for bloggers to recognize one another for their contributions, both to their blog and the blogging community.

Award Rules:

  • Thank the nominator, and publish a post on your blog about receiving the Blogger Recognition Award. Make sure to provide a link to the nominator’s blog in your post.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Nominate other bloggers for this award, and inform them of their nomination.

How my blog started:

I’ve always enjoyed writing and, having been inspired by other bloggers, felt that my love of France and search for a French house would be the focus for my blog. ‘FancyingFrance’ is definitely a creative outlet for me. I really enjoy the writing process.

Two pieces of advice to new bloggers:

  • Enjoy and have fun with your blog. Otherwise, what’s the point? (Unless you’re a ‘professional’ blogger, of course.)
  • Connect with other bloggers. I read many blogs before I started my own and found them inspirational. I often comment on other blogs and really appreciate comments on mine.

I would also say that, in my opinion, it is not necessary to follow any ‘ blogging rules’. However, there is plenty of blogging advice out there, should you want some support.

Nominate other bloggers for this award:

I recently nominated certain bloggers for the ‘Sunshine Blogger Award‘. There are so many brilliant blogs that I enjoy and it seems that most of them have (well deserved) awards already. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to think about my nominations a bit longer. Watch this space…

As for my own blog, I have chosen a new theme which I will be uploading very soon. Fingers crossed that I don’t lose any parts of my blog, in the process!

 

Sunshine Blogger …

…Award! 

I’ve been nominated. I can’t tell you how surprised – and delighted – I am.

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Enzo Martinelli who blogs at https://enzomartinelli.wordpress.com/ nominated me. I would recommend his blog and not just because of his nomination – haha! His blog is called ‘Travel, good food, arts and more’ and, as well as blogging on a variety of topics, Enzo is multi-lingual. Do have a look!

The Sunshine Blogger Award is peer recognition for bloggers that inspire positivity and joy. What a lovely thing!

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the questions given by the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate other blogs for the award and ask them some questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award Logo on your blog.

Here are the questions from Enzo:

  1. What do you enjoy most in blogging?
  2. What has been your most successful blog post and why do you think it was such a success?
  3. What was your happiest moment in life so far?
  4. What is your little wish you would like to come through the soonest?
  5. A day on the beach or a day exploring a city?
  6. Where would you like to travel next?
  7. What is your favourite season and why?
  8. Eating what food brings to you some happy memories about your childhood?
  9. Who is your favourite historical character and why?
  10. What is the piece of music that brings back to you happy memories?
  11. If you could go back in time when would you like to live?

Here are my answers:

  1. I love the writing process and connecting with other bloggers.
  2. My most successful blog post was ‘C’est chic?’ I wrote about the stereotypical French woman. This post certainly received the most views and provoked a lot of  comments! https://fancyingfrance.com/2017/09/26/cest-chic/
  3. The births of my boys!
  4. Getting another dog … or two
  5. Exploring a city
  6. India
  7. Spring. I love to see nature springing (!) into life
  8. Steak and Kidney Pie
  9. Difficult to answer because there are so many. I’ll go for Emmeline Pankhurst
  10. Again, so many but probably ‘Maggie May’ Rod Stewart
  11. I’m quite happy to stay where I am, thanks!

Now comes the difficult part! Nominate other bloggers and ask them some questions. (Depending on where you look, the rules say up to 11  bloggers). I recently wrote a post ‘5 Brilliant Blogs’. https://fancyingfrance.com/2019/04/11/5-brilliant-blogs/  Now, in theory, I should just be able to nominate all these lovely bloggers. However, some of them have already been nominated – quite rightly, too!

Here are my nominations:

And here are my questions:

  1. How did you come up with the name of your blog?
  2. Why did you start blogging?
  3. What do you like most about blogging?
  4. Do you have any advice for new bloggers?
  5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  6. Dogs or cats?
  7. Tea or Coffee?
  8. What does your family think about your blogging habit?

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I hope you have enjoyed this post and that it will enable you to discover some fabulous blogs. I’m always open to suggestions for other blogs I should read!

 

5 Brilliant Blogs

I read a lot of blogs on a variety of topics. One of the reasons for starting this blog was because I was inspired by other blogs.

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This post would be too long if I selected all the blogs I enjoy reading! Therefore, this is just a selection of some my favourites, in no particular order! There will be future posts about other blogs I love, so I hope I haven’t offended anyone by not mentioning them here.

Some of the bloggers  write about life in France, some on fashion, some on food and some on travel. Other blogs I enjoy may not have one specific focus but cover a wide range of topics. The ones, in this post, are all written by women but I also read blogs written by men! Many are written by bloggers who are in a similar age group to me and who tend to have a very positive attitude to the aging process but I like to read blogs written by younger authors, too.

Not all the bloggers I follow are in the UK or France. It’s great to connect with bloggers all over the world. One of the best parts of blogging – for me anyway – is linking with other bloggers.

Barefoot Blogger : inspiring travel over 60.

This is one of the first blogs that inspired me to start blogging. It is written by Deborah who retired from a career in corporate marketing and divorced after 40 years of  marriage. Three years ago, on a whim and following a dream, she moved from South Carolina to Uzès in SW France.

I’ve followed her adventures and attempts to master the French language with fascination. Her blog is truly inspirational!

https://bfblogger.com

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The Frugal Fashion Shopper: charity shop fashion for the stylish woman

 This  blog is written by 72 year old Penny who lives in Brighton. I mention her age because Penny regularly blogs about issues around women and ageing. Penny mainly buys her clothes from charity shops and then styles them in a stunning way. She is a hat lover and is a great believer in colour. I always enjoy reading Penny’s posts which I find interesting, stimulating and generally fabulous! Have a look here:

https://frugalfashionshopper.co.uk/

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Atypical60: A Typical Blog. A Typical Woman. A Typical Take on Life. With an Atypical Twist!

Catherine is a feisty American Blogger with a sharp sense of humour who writes with a blunt honesty. She blogs about all aspects of her daily life as a sixty plus blogger. Her husband happens to be French and Catherine has developed a love of all things French, fostered by regular visits to France. Catherine is a passionate advocate of wigs. She has thinning hair and changes her style of wigs frequently with impressive results. Her blog makes me smile!

https://atypical60.comFC6DAF8B-333E-4446-9FF4-462F9518380C

 

Taste of France:  The beautiful life in the other South of France

This blogger lives near Carcassonne and has a love affair with France and everything French. I love reading this blog because the author is relatively local and writes about an area I know and like. The blog is written with a great deal of detail and each post has a special quality. If you want to know more about the ‘other South of France’ or even discover some luxurious AirBnB apartments, in Carcassonne, do have a look here:

https://francetaste.wordpress.com

The photo below is one I took in Carcassonne

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This is Sixty: All sorts of everything

Eloise writes about what it is like being sixty and so much more besides. You only have to look at her home page to get an idea of the range of different topics that are covered within this blog. These include family, work, leisure, food, poetry and that’s just for starters!

https://thisissixty.blog

I don’t have a photo or gravatar for this blog so here are some spring flowers!

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I hope you have enjoyed reading about these blogs. There will definitely be a future post about some of the other blogs I read and appreciate. Perhaps you have some recommendations for me?!

Bonjour 2019 et Au revoir 2018

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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 (!)

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and ‘Parapluies de Carcassonne’

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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!

 

 

 

La rentrée

September has always been a significant month for me. I think this is because my career has been based in education. I see September, and the start of the new academic year, as an opportunity for a fresh start. I used to look forward to a new timetable, new classes and new stationery! As a pupil, a student and a teacher, I always loved getting new pens, folders and pencil cases. I still enjoy going into Paperchase now!

This September has meant a return to Castelnaudary after two months in the UK, catching up with friends and family. Our French house hasn’t been empty, our eldest son and seven friends spent a week there, before travelling on to Barcelona. It was an international gathering as there were four English guys and four Brazilian girls!

Then our youngest son and five friends were the next to have a holiday here. As they are all students, it was great for them to be able to have a break in the sun without breaking the bank! They were able to relax and enjoy the pool and, by the look of our cellar, have the odd bottle of wine … or six!

As a result, we have also ‘inherited’ a rather nice barbecue and an interesting selection of inflatables, plus a variety of footballs, basketballs and rugby balls!

When we returned to Castelnaudary, we found our garden had morphed – yet again – into a field! Truly, I’m not complaining, although it might sound like it. It’s just one of those things that happens when you are lucky enough to have a second home. When we left our home in the UK, our garden was looking so tidy and well cared for. We were even complimented by our neighbours! Yet, we know, by the time we get back, it will be back to square one. Still, gardening is a brilliant form of exercise…

We’ve had some gorgeous weather since we returned. Look at those blue skies!

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You can just catch a glimpse of the pool. The water temperature is a very pleasant 25 degrees! The shrubs in the foreground are oleanders. I was delighted that they survived being hacked pruned by Mr FF.

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One of the first things I like to do, on our return, is check the Canal du Midi is still at the end of our garden and then visit the port. This rather moody looking shot, was taken while eating breakfast outside a new boulangerie that has recently opened. The colour is really quite odd and, yet, I like it!
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Of course, la rentrée is really all about the return after the long, summer holidays. This could be a return to school, university or even work. In my case, I was delighted to return to teaching my English conversation classes. These take place in the rather grand (from the outside) Palais de Justice.

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I often think that September is the perfect time for me to make some blogging resolutions. I’ve been meaning to update my blog for some time. I need to update my profile and photo. However, my main aim is to change to a self-hosted blog and I think it’s time I changed the appearance of my blog, too. Watch this space!

 

 

 

Leading a double life

This might sound more interesting than it actually is in reality. I’m not a secret spy, nor do I have a second Mr FancyingFrance tucked away somewhere!

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pixabay.com

I am a Gemini so that might have something to do with any duality I may have, if I was totally convinced by signs of the zodiac.

On the other hand, I am lucky enough to have two homes and divide my time between S.E. England and S.W. France. I do consider our French house to be a second home rather than purely a holiday house but there are distinct positives and  challenges to maintaining and travelling between properties.

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Our French house

I’m also mindful of the fact that there are people who don’t have a home at all and that I was fortunate to have inheritances which financed the French property. Although it is never truly fortunate when a family member or friend is no longer with us.

What’s it like to lead a double life?

  • It means travelling quite a lot. Sometimes by car, sometimes by plane. If we fly it’s between  Toulouse and Gatwick. I’ve become a truly light flier as I don’t have to transport any toiletries or clothes as I have some in each place. If we drive, we allow two days and have a found the ideal hotel, for a one night stop over, outside Tours.
  • It involves adapting to a different pace of life, according to where I am.  In France, I feel more as if I’m on holiday. I don’t rush around as much as I do in the UK as I don’t have the same extensive network of family and friends.
  • It necessitates switching between languages. I believe this is very good for my aging brain! There was a time when my French was fluent. I even used to dream in French! This isn’t the case anymore but I’m working on it.
  • It entails adapting to cultural differences in terms of food, shopping, etiquette and more besides. We eat out more frequently in France and always buy food from the local market.
  • It results in us modifying our behaviour. In France, I am even more polite. I do have a bee in my bonnet about saying please, thank you, holding doors open for people and so forth. I have been told that I am too polite. How is that even possible?! When I meet people in France, we always shake hands or kiss on the cheek, depending on how well I know them. When I go into a shop, I always say ‘Bonjour Monsieur, Madame,’ etc. This is the norm. I wrote about the ‘kissing dilemma’ here: https://fancyingfrance.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/faire-la-bise-to-kiss-or-not-to-kiss/

These are just some of the aspects of my double life. I’ve read somewhere that everyone leads a double life to some extent, that we all have a public and personal persona. This was certainly the case when I was a teacher!

Do you lead any kind of a double life? I’d love to know!

 

‘Staycations’

Are you familiar with this term? I’ve only recently come across the expression and that was when I was preparing for the English conversation lessons that I take in France. I love delivering these classes because I do them voluntarily. It’s great to be able to make this small contribution to the local community. I love teaching and it’s an excellent way to meet people.

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I digress (ramble!). I was researching for my next lesson and stumbled on the term ‘staycation’. I think I was vaguely aware of the concept but that was all. The definition is:

“a holiday spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.”

I’m guessing that the term originated from the States as it is a combination of the words stay and vacation. In the UK we talk about holidays.

Have you ever had a ‘staycation’? We’ve certainly had many holidays in the UK, particularly when our sons were small and we didn’t have the finances to travel abroad. In fact, some of our best breaks have been in Bournemouth, Cornwall and Devon. Another one of my favourite places is the Gower in South Wales.

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Rhossilli Bay

Of course the weather will always come into play in the UK. At the moment we are enjoying a heatwave but this is not the norm for a British summer! It is not really surprising that so many Brits go in search of – generally – sunnier climes for their holidays. The opportunity to experience other cultures, cuisines and lifestyles may also entice people to travel abroad.

Why take a staycation? I’ve mentioned finance but for many people a staycation can be less stressful. Fewer concerns about travel, security and health risks can encourage people to holiday at home or nearer to home.

I have already written about my first trip to Scotland, specifically Glasgow and Edinburgh, last year. It was the most amazing trip and made me wonder why I hadn’t done it sooner. I opted to let the train take the strain and I found it a very relaxing way to sit back and enjoy the scenery.

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https://fancyingfrance.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/fancying-france-the-fringe/

There is also the question of ethical tourism. Cheap flights and massive cruise ships have their drawbacks, particularly with the impact they have on the environment. Concerns about their carbon footprint may be another reason why people choose to stay either closer to home or at home.

I’d love to know what you think about staycations! Do you think they’re a great idea? Have you had a staycation? Would you recommend this kind of holiday? Do share!