Monday, August 30, 2010

Kentish catch up

Because of not having a landline (we've only signed a six month contract at this house in case we are not that happy) we are on some mobile roving set up for internet access and I am on a limited amount each month. I only realised this when a screen came up the other day telling me I was out of internet credit. Mr FF had tried to explain this to me on the first day here but there was so much going on I did not quite take it in. I'm limiting myself to just now and then in the old blogosphere, so that is one reason I am not very good at keeping up to date with your entries. Another reason is that I am just enjoying being back in the UK and am out a fair bit.

Immediate impressions of being back:

I am no longer the plumpest person in town - there are some hefty people around and I'm very happy about this.

Everyone seems to have tatoos (I hate them), especially round where we are living

Some of the local kids seem quite brattish which was never the case where we lived in Brittany. I have already caught our phantom doorbell ringer (done to make the dogs bark which indeed they have been doing). I shouted at him and his two mates and then took their photos - now they scuttle past and avoid eye contact when I pass them on dog walks.

Traffic is horrendous and everyone seems to delight in cutting up someone they think is a French person (my car has French plates)

My love affair with Tescos is developing into a true passion. I'd never eaten pak choi until this week - not to mention all the millions of items you just do not see in a French supermarket. I'd also forgotten how English supermarkets encourage their staff to be friendly and helpful - again, a no-no in France.

Bold 2 in 1 washing capsules are rubbish and smear soap all over clothes.

Things on the horizon:

Further bonding with our lovely neighbours who say they do not mind the dogs barking as much as they do. Even though we are in a cul-de-sac we are on a pivotal corner with lots of foot traffic to the local shops. Two floor to ceiling windows mean the dogs have too perfect a view of people to bark at and sitting with the curtains drawn is a bit depressing.

I have an interview on Wednesday morning in Tunbridge Wells and will not say more until I know whether or not I have the job.

Getting UK plates for our cars - not because of the road antics by other drivers. I think we are going to be here for the long haul and it is law to have the plates of the country.

Back later in the week with hopefully positive news to report about a job.


Dumdad said...

"Traffic is horrendous and everyone seems to delight in cutting up someone they think is a French person (my car has French plates)"

How true! I received this treatment this summer and wanted to shout, "But I'm an Englishman in a French car! It's all a big mistake!"

I do think in general the behaviour in Britain is more loutish. Ah well. Bonne chance!

Nora Johnson said...

Yes, customer service is something you're hardly aware of in the UK - until you leave to live abroad. Here in Andalucia, it's practically non-existent. Shops open at 10am (or thereabouts...depending) but you can't attract the attention of staff until they've finished their phone calls or chats with their co-workers. Invariably manaña...

On the plus side, Spanish youth are less loutish. (Unlike vacationing Brits!)

Good luck with the interview this week.

btw "Kent Fancy" or something now?

Steve said...

Welcome back to Blighty - it's plain you are being reintroduced to the National character. Good luck with the job interview!

Scarlet Blue said...

Beware parking in the Sainsbury's carpark in Tunbridge Wells - most of the dents and scratches on my car happened whilst it was parked there. Someone even knocked the wing mirror off once [it's not even a flash car]. Now you know why I fled to Devon!
Anyhow - wishing the the best of luck for getting a new job.

Ayak said...

It will take a while to settle back. There will be a time in the not too distant future where for a short while you will feel that you don't actually belong in either country...perfectly normal of course and it will pass. Getting a job will help...and the very best of luck with that xx

Anonymous said...

It's funny but I rarely think the customer service here is up to much; France must be shocking.

T Wells is probably scratch central as far as car parks go because so many people here just have to drive massive 4 wheel drive vehicles that might be practical for a Welsh hill farmer, but barely fit into the parking spaces (let alone our narrow roads). My car is so old and battered I wouldn't notice another scratch. Oh yes, and there are lots of French people here too - not that I am making any connection. Good luck on wednesday.

the fly in the web said...

Good luck with the interview...fingers crossed for you.

We had to grow anything outside the usual French litany of fruit and veg... and when I last went to the U.K. I was stunned by the choice available in the supermarkets.

Well done with the doorbell ringers, too!

Laura [What I Like] said...

Best of luck on the job front, very excited for you to be embarking on this new chapter! That is hilarious about the license plates...

Will said...

Bummer about internet service ... is there anyplace where brutes, thugs, bullies, vandals, the jibbering drunk obscene are isolated into a small place of their own? A desert or Arctic ice flow seem perfectly suited for them.

marc aurel said...

Welcome home to the repat expat. No phone line is a bummer. We gave up land lines last year for phones, but I am finding cell phones annoyingly small. I guess you are in, or close to The Weal. Lovely country. Food shops in Southern England are fantastic. They weren't when I was a kid.

Sarah said...

Good luck from me too for the job interview!

If you have a laptop, I think you can connect to the internet at MacDos, if you're desperate, which you probably aren't!

Does it feel like you've come home?

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the interview!

And I understand the crush with British supermarkets! So much choice... so little money...

French Fancy... said...

Dumdad - aren't English drivers agressive - I'd heard so from Mr FF but now I can totally confirm it

Nora - shopping has been great and I have certainly done a lot of it. Never has the plastic been flashed so much. It makes a real change from online transactions - it's so much better but I guess the novelty of lugging bags full of stuff will soon wear off.

Steve - we've just been to the local playing fields which are about three mins away. Lots of little boys about 8 years old effing and c wording around. It's very sad.

Scarlet - I did a reccy this morning to T Wells using my Tomtom and it guided me around in circles, literally. I've got to find a better route.

Ayak - There are pros and cons with each country but a major major con is the traffic and the motorway agression - the M20 has some awful drivers, but I guess every motorway has.

Alienne - I saw a lot of T Wells this morning - as I drove round in circles. I needed to end up on Mount Ephraim and I think I was sent via every road to reach the summit. Fabulous views over the city though but I did feel a mite too aggravated to appreciate them.

Thanks fly - the supermarket range has been such a surprise. Unless I took it all for granted before we went to France, I just don't remember there being such an extensive range here. And even though I never need help with packing it is still such a novelty to be asked - imagine the average Carrefour or Intermarche employee being asked to do such a thing.

Laura - thanks sweetie - it is legendary, the love-hate relationship between the French and the Brits.

Will - bits of where we are seem to be quite rough really and bits are very exclusive. If only the exclusive bits had been a bit cheaper and also welcomed dogs in the rental houses

Marc - Kent is truly gorgeous but maybe not exactly in the town we have selected. We'll have to have a real think about whether to renew after the six months - the thing is the thought of moving again so soon...

Sarah - my laptop is what broke when I was still back home in France (I attempted a Ubuntu upgrade and it all went terribly wrong). I am currently using a spare bits and pieces set up belonging to Mr FF. It's not mobile though.

Fi - I'm even on first name terms with some of the Tesco assistants now, that is how often I have been in the fortnight we have been here. It's got to stop - no more money now.

e said...

Best of luck with your interview,FF!

Previously (Very) Lost in France said...

I spent most of my formative years in Tunbridge Wells and can attest to the fact that the traffic is awful. I have not so fond memories of learning to drive and accidentally ending up at the top of Mt Ephraim where I failed miserably to execute a hill start.... many times! Here in the West Country, the traffic is light and the youth much like in France. Bingo! As for British supermarkets. I love them! Good luck with the job interview.

Fran said...

Hope the interview goes well. Enjoyed your post - a good insight into what's different in France. Makes me appreciate Tesco more!

Mark said...

Welcome back. Funny how you like British Supermarkets and yet lots of people think French ones are great - grass is always greener and all that.

I'm just back from a summer away so might even start writing soon!

Elizabeth said...

Good luck in your new home

As I have discovered over the years
you can't have it all in one place:
American supermarkets are rubbish
There are few dishwashers (machine type) in Morocco
English weather is unreliable
Italian food is yummy

and on and on and on ad infinitum

Lulu LaBonne said...

I've got my fingers crossed for the job

C. Troubadour said...

Such a nice juicy update! I'm glad you're getting settled. And I LOVE that you took photos of those mischievous doorbell ringers! Hoping for good news on the job. Very excited for you :)

Rob-bear said...

I appreciate all the yummy news. Except the bit about the drivers. And the rascals.

Hope the job interview goes well!

Ed Pilolla said...

i love it! i confess that i treat out-of-state license plates with, well, let's call it tough love:)
of course, when i have out-of-state plates i plead silently for mercy as i back up traffic in the slow lane looking desperately for my destination. i am full of double standards:)
good luck with the interview!

Carol said...

It's great to hear how your settling in! Hehehe, love the fact that you took your phantom door bell ringers photo :-)

Good luck on the job interview

C x

Ps. I can give you an easy and extremely tasty recipe featuring Pak Choi

justmeagain said...

Welcome to Kent! And good luck with the job interview. I shall watch out for you wandering around T Wells..... :)

Lane said...

Glad you seem to be settling in. It must be odd for your home country to seem 'different' to you. I really like hearing about it. And the dogs? I hope they're settling in too and have nice places to go to suck up some good sniffs.

Best of luck on Wednesday and well done for sorting it all out so quickly!

Ian Lidster said...

You reminded me of the little Spar groceries in France where, yes, nobody was friendly and the options were limited. Tescos is good, and so is Sainsburys. And you and me both about tatoos. I detest them and immediately make a judgment about anybody so adorned.

Delana said...

Go get 'em Julie. And BTW, we all know, there isn't even a real word for "customer service" in France. Well, there might be but if there is, I've never heard it uttered!

Delana said...

Go get 'em Julie. And BTW, we all know, there isn't even a real word for "customer service" in France. Well, there might be but if there is, I've never heard it uttered!

Phil Lowe said...

Hey FF, good to hear that you're shopping at Tescos. I am going for an interview there on Friday. Big fingers crossed as I have gambled rather a lot on geting the job.

I don't drive so can't comment on the road aspects. All the best. xxxx

PigletinFrance said...

It must be a while since I stopped by as I didn't know you'd gone back, I hope you settle in and that the job interview goes well.

Re your first impressions:

1. I too find I am SLIM when I'm in the UK, I totally love it :)

2. Tesco's, Sainsbury's, Waitrose: heaven! I could spend hours walking around those places. Each time I go back I leave room in my suitcase to take back all the sauces etc I cannot buy in France. It's nice to have the choice of something other than Pizza or Kebab for convenience.

Traffic: don't get me started

Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

We are leaving dull Brussels for a new life in deepest Dorset in ten days time. I can't wait. I love the supermarkets in England. Think customer service is a dirty word in France, the word doesn't even exist in Belgium. We have set up a BT account with unlimited broadband access, free UK calls and free to 36 countries for £16 a month for three months and then going up to £27. If you move you can take your contract with you. This is FREE compared with Belgian phones - I might even start using a phone again!
I am drowning in packing cases and tape.
My car will stay French for the moment - moving is so expensive!