Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Five Reasons why 'Life is Grand'


I have been tagged by justme
to list five reasons why 'Life is Grand'.

When I was first tagged I thought I would need to hold the tag in abeyance because I wasn't feeling particularly cheerful at the time but, since then, the sun has come out and I'm sure that has lifted everyone's mood, as it did mine. so...

1. Having worried about over-decimating the front garden when I recently went on a Lopping Attack, I am happy to report that the almost ground level stumps of hydrangeas are now bearing fronds of brown with green shoots at the end; likewise the Passion Flower has a few tendrils and looks in good health. It's too early to tell about the Hibiscus, but it is a moody shrub at the best of times and doesn't really begin to thrive until about July.

2. Being initially daunted by the reputation of Goethe's Faust (and the endless moaning about it on the Open University student forum), I am happy to find that it has some very funny moments. Mephistopheles has some great lines - he is witheringly sarcastic with much use of irony. It would be very exciting to see on the stage because there are lots of magical effects, although the scene when M - in the guise of a big black poodle- first approaches Faust might be a bit hard to recreate on the stage (unless one had a dog a bit better behaved than Misty and Poppy bichon). In short, Faust is a cracking read and the thing is that at the time that plays like this (and Shakespeare and his ilk) were written they were not considered highbrow, they were just regular 'things on at the theatre'. It is only in our chavtastic times that the reading of good literature is considered an intellectual pursuit. More about this when I post the result (for which I am still waiting) of my last essay - the Davy/Marcet chemistry one.

3. I recently blogged about the fact that I had become addicted to biscuits and I was going to give them up. Guess what - I did. I have not had a biscuit since then and,despite the fact that the bichons have a canister of Petit Beurre for their treats,not one has passed my lips. If I'm peckish and fancy a snack with a cup of tea I might have a dried apricot or an apple. It does make it much easier to stick to my regime.

4. After six years of living here and an ability to speak passable French, Mr FF and I have now enlisted the services of an excellent French teacher in order that our French goes from passable to really good. He is from Paris, has an accent and teaching method that is clear and easy to follow and we are having two-hour lessons every Friday on a one-to-one (strictly speaking it's a one-to-two) basis. We don't sit writing things down from a board, it's mainly conversation and we are learning lots of things about France and the French and being constantly corrected when we hit a bit of poor grammar. Our neighbours and French friends are lovely but, with the exception of our hairdresser, nobody corrects us when we speak even though we have asked them to.

5. I recently thought we were going to have to get the plumber in because our sink had a major blockage and simply refused to drain. Mr FF dismantled the U-bend (why does that always sound cue for a silly gag) and found a large amount of ancient pasta that seemed to have slipped past the little strainer that I am not always very careful about placing 'just so'. I have been since then (you can imagine the conversation).

The image for today is one of my pairs of Rocket Dogs (called for some reason Tugboat) and if I could buy a pair of every design that they produce I would. My foot looks enormous in the photo but it is a size 3. I find that Rockets are the most comfortable footwear I have ever had and all I seem to have on my feet these days are one of my eight pairs, despite having a cupboard full of other shoes and boots.

Now, with this tagging lark...my new philosophy is not to tag people any more. If you would like to pick it up you are most welcome and I'd love to read your five reasons why 'Life is Grand'.

40 comments:

Dumdad said...

That's a great idea to take French lessons.

P.S. I hope the moules recipe works out okay!

Henry the Dog's Mum said...

Well, I've had tons of French lessons from native speakers but I don't seem to get any better. I also practice it with my friend Stephanie, but she gets so bored with my slow talk we end up speaking English. All my French friends speak English better than i speak French (that's the problem when you're mixing with pilots - English is compulsory 'cause it's the aviation language). We do try. I love your boots. Imagine what my size 8 plodders would look like at the side of yours??? By the way, I reckon Dumdad might have got you mixed up with me as regards the moules....:)

Henry the Dog's Mum said...

PS: I did laugh about the pasta:)

Henry the Dog's Mum said...

God I'm a muppet - just read your comment on Dumdad's blog, ignore me. I thought you didn't like moules. Sorry. Blonde moment:)

Elizabeth said...

Love your comments on what you are reading.
Yes, I do think academics make things much too complicated...........
So glad you are getting good at French - a very challenging language if you ask me.

Jelica said...

Good luck with your French! I guess the trick is to speak as much as you can, mistakes and all :)

LadyFi said...

I did enjoy reading Faust when I was in Sixth Form and again at uni...

We are forever dismantling the U bends in the sink to extract hair and nails... Yuk! And when I say me - I mean not me.... ;-)

French Fancy said...

Dumdad - we've had French lessons in a classroom setting with others at a French association; I'd had a few one-to-ones with our estate agent here just after we'd bought the house and I've also done an OU course (as well of course up to O-level standard at school). These all pale into insignificance besides our new teacher who is magnifique.

Looking forward to trying out the recipe

Henry - we both love speaking French and it is our aim to become as fluent as we can be.My mum spoke French very well,not that it is an inherited gene or anything. (because if it was then I'd be fluent already)

Elizabeth - sorry I've not been round to your blog for a while. I must try and do better with blogs I love - isn't it hard to fit eveything in.

Jelica- you've got it! It's speaking whenever one can and never mind if you make mistakes. It's all about confidence - and a little bit of alcohol does help the linguistic talent pour out.

Ladyfi - I clean out the shower filter and am careful with that one, in the kitchen the cooking mania takes over and the sink strainer gets a bit neglected.

The Dotterel said...

So, not only does the devil get the best tunes, he also gets the best lines, eh? You're making a strong case for my reading Faust, y'know. Trust you're doing so in German!

justme said...

Excellent reasons to be cheerful! Especially the arrival of the sunshine and the hope that spring is with us.....I think that is cheering EVERYONE up. And the boots are pretty cool too.

Frankofile said...

Well done with the biscuit self-denial. Speaking French is a much better occupation for the mouth. Oh to have that articulation! French can sound so beautiful. I just love some phrases. 'Par contre' is a current favourite.

Lola said...

Never too late to learn a new language, that's my credo. Brava!

Bess Tester said...

I wish I could speak French - well done for trying to improve

Dedene said...

Good for you for being cheerful. This early warm weather has certainly brightened up my mood. Also, hooray for you both for taking French lessons.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

FF, great Meme! Congrats on learning to speak even better French - All the study in the world does not compare with close contact with a native speaker, in my opinion - You're going to master all those colloquialisms and bits of slang and odd pronunciations that we'd never capture otherwise. The sunshine does make us feel more up for all kinds of stuff, and so well done on eviter-ing les biscuits, FF!

Larry M. Brow said...

I don't know why, but somehow I got it into my head that Mister French Fancy was himself French.

I've joked that in my own family my sisters and parents studied other languages and I was the one left with English.

lakeviewer said...

You are having fun, fun, fun. A private tutor speeds up the language acquisition process. You're a smart cookie.

Jennysmith said...

What pretty footwear, FF. Jimmy Choo can go and hang - eh? Actually i don't like those choo things at all - they look common!

Great neme thing, FF. And good luck with the French xxxxx

Steve said...

A biscuitless existence is nothing to celebrate! Poor you! ;-)

Rob-bear said...

Tu parle Français? C'est tres bien. C'est merveilleux! Peut-etre un blog bilangue? Oui? Non? Il n'ya pas de quoi.

Et pas de bicuits? Quelle domage!

Veggie Carrie said...

Are Rocket Dogs the new crocs? Dogs are much better than crocodiles...

Also the French lessons sound great. Despite being married to a native French speaker, who gives private tuition to others, we rarely speak French together (donc je suis nul en francais!)

bindu said...

I like those Rocket Dogs! Interesting to learn a little more about you from this list.

Ian Lidster said...

As a former secondary English teacher I applaud you for pointing out that Shakespeare was very much a writer for the people and was accused in his lifetime of actually being rather lowbrow.
Your Rocket Dogs are wonderful

Blu said...

Life is too short to worry about pruning the shrubs!

I hope that in another three years I might speak some passable French. I still speak a weird kind of Franglais or gibberish. But little by little, I keep trying!

PS. Love the boots.

French Fancy said...

The Dotterel - I've only read Part One because that was the specified text and is the part written during the 50 years that I have been studying.I thoroughly recommend it.

justme -yep, spring is here and a time for new beginnings for all things.

Frankie - I can sometimes go into a reverie watching French television just listening to the sounds of the beautiful words. The meaning floats above me however - I just listen to those lovely vowels.

thank you Bess and hello - did you know that your profile is not available to us?

Lola - hello and merci :)

Dedene -hooray for all things today I think

AWONI - we're actually quite good at street language and slang, better than perfect grammar French. Our library has a shelf of various levels of French books - educational and fiction. We love to speak it and want to speak it better

Larry - you are too busy with your life to worry about other languages. Leave it to the others and get back to the kiln, I say.

lakeviewer - yes, my life is not a bad one - I have to admit it.

Jen - I'm not tall and willowy for Jimmy C and Manola's - I prefer to be comfy these days.

oh I’ve gone spacy

Not Waving but Drowning said...

Love the feet, blue, Wow!

GG

French Fancy said...

Steve - if I'm in a restaurant I'll spoil myself with a fancy dessert and we do eat chocolate after lunch, so life is not so bad. Biscuits are just empty calories really and after eating them I used to wish I hadn't - so I do feel better 'in myself' (whatever that means)

Rob - il n'y aura jamais un moment quand je veux fair un blog bilan - ma vie est trop courte

Carrie - hello you, how's life? It's been a while.

I loathe Crocs, I think they are so ugly and I would never wear rubber shoes. Fancy being married to a French teacher. Mind you my dad was a professional pianist and never played for us for pleasure. It used to take my mum banging away at the Blue Danube on his grand piano that would cause him to rush to it and sit down and play something wonderful - so the piano wouldn't be upset. (strange but true)

bindu - Google this season's Rockets - they are gorgeous.

Ian - I adore old Will's writing and don't know why it is loathed by some people - Hamlet -of course - is my favourite ever play and the best stage version I saw was with Daniel Day Lewis and Helena Bonham Carter

Blu - it has to be little by little really. However, six years ago when we first moved here I never thought we would ever master the different past tenses - it is slowly coming. Writing letters however is a different thing.

French Fancy said...

Not Waving - sorry, I missed you when I rebooted to get back to normal spacing. Get a pair of Rockets and you won't want your feet to be encased in any other make. I've had one pair for nearly three years and worn them about every other day. They are only canvas but exceptionally hard-wearing and colourful.

goodness, I sound like an advert

Lane said...

No biscuits? Respect!

Your five grand things sound wonderful - even the sink unblocking:-)

And size 3 feet! Wowser!

A Super Dilettante said...

Mrs. FF, I think your neighbours are really genteel and polite. Polite people don't point out errors. Apparently, the Duke of Edinburgh copied one of his guests at dinner party when the guest used the wrong fish knife! On the other hand, if you don't know what the error is, one does tend to keep making the same mistake (I have to remind this myself when it comes to dating men).

cheshire wife said...

You are very brave to go to a French speaking hairdresser. I have the greatest of difficulty getting my English speaking hairdresser to understand what I want her to do.

claire p said...

At the moment I'd struggle to fine one reason, but you read my blog so you know that.

So glad your garden survived. Will we get to see it in its glory?

Ok so maybe I could find one reason. Jamie makes life grand. So does repets of Top Gear on Dave.

Phil Lowe said...

Five reasons why life is grand:

La saucisse seche dans ma frigo.

Redundancy isn't always a bad thing.

Tea and cake.

Being loved by friends and family.

Having a good sense of humour and the ability to share.

nikkicrumpet said...

Well it sounds like you have good reasons to think Life is Grand. I would love to learn the French language...it just sounds so chic!

French Fancy said...

Lane - I nibbled a corner of a petit beurre before and it didn't taste very nice - so I've kicked the habit I think.

ASD - Perhaps our neighbours are not just polite but simply baffled by our conversation and to point out our errors would take too long :)

cheshirewife - our French hairdresser is very good and does in fact speak English - although we stop her doing so at every opportunity.

clairep - When all the tulips come out in the front I'll take a photo.

Phil - I thought your list was great.

nikki - our newest teacher is working on our accent, teaching us to try and twist those vowels as the French do. It sounds so exaggerated that it makes me laugh but it makes him happy

Fragrant Liar said...

It's always a relief when your U-bend is dismantled and you're no longer blocked up, I always say. If that doesn't make life grand, I don't know what does!! ;)

Fun list.

French Fancy said...

Fragrant Liar -I saw your comment on my email inbox and I did a double take - 'U-Bend'? I thought, what on earth....then of course I remembered and gave a little chortle

Titian red said...

What a great list ! Stuff sprouting in the garden is always so optimistic, giving up biscuits allows smuggery, enjoying literature and passing on that enjoyment is wonderful, and as for language skills you are to be applauded. Learning in situ helps so much, my Italian comes on in leaps and bounds every time I go. I may flounder and gesticulate, but then discover it has improved by osmosis !

French Fancy said...

TR - hello you, how's things?

Ta for liking my list and I'm all booked on the Stendhal overnight to Venice now. Will be round soon

Deb said...

Hi ~ I love the Rocket Dogs. Well, actually I loved the whole post. It allowed me to get to know you a bit more. But I do love the Rocket Dogs! I am off to find some online!