Tag Archives: lifestyle

Monday Market in Rural France

One of the joys in living in Europe is the quality of markets — no, not supermarkets (and those are frequently quite delightful, too!) — regional weekly markets where the products are straight from the fields or cheesemaker or butcher or fishmonger into your shopping basket. AND they are picturesque as well!

Here are a few scenes from our Monday market inside and outside the medieval market hall in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives in Calvados, Normandy, France. Enjoy!

Fruit & veg at Monday Market.

Fruit & veg including HUGE sacks of carrots at the Monday Market.

Market vendors outside the medieval hall.

Market vendors outside the medieval hall.

Feathered friends and pretty plants.

Feathered friends and pretty plants.

Shopping baskets (yes -- I'm going to buy a new one!) and flowering plants.

Shopping baskets (yes — I’m going to buy a new one!) and flowering plants.

And finally — the clothing on offer may not be to our taste — but someone must want it!

A variety of clothing is sold at the Monday market.

A variety of clothing is sold at the Monday market.

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A Taxing Situation in France

We still ache for France — we cannot lie about that. And when people here ask us why in the world we returned to Australia, we tell them quite honestly that we were unwilling to throw away any chance of EVER retiring in 20 years simply because the French government wanted 53% of our income in taxes. And so we are back.

The situation is apparently even worse now and we’ve only been gone a few months! This article in The Local from France shares the latest tax rate being imposed on the population — a whopping 56.61%!!! But we had barely finished gasping at that number as I read it aloud to Mark when I added the information about the planned increase in 2014.

How in the name of all that is sensible and reasonable can people survive on less than 44% of their income??? The current French policies are ruining the future of their country. And reading this article today has simply reaffirmed to us that we have made the correct decision for our future.

Yes, we miss our former French life and yes, we might eventually purchase a small house back there for our retirement years, but no, we will most certainly NOT be paying such a huge whopping chunk of our income to President Hollande and his cronies. It’s a personal opinion, but I think the future of France is being washed away as more and more young people leave France as soon as their education is complete and more and more older expats choose to opt for France as their country of residency if and only if they are retired. These trends are sad, chilling, and quite counterproductive for a place that we love so dearly.

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Happily Going Down, Down, Down

No travel stories or photos today — just a short and very personal update.

The Paleo Program rocks!

I’ve just done a total-up of the inches that I’ve lost in 6 months (with NO exercise other than walking several kilometers a week) and it comes to OVER 20 inches (54 cms) off my waist, hips, chest, arms, and legs! We don’t even own a scale to stand on, but the last time I checked I was down by well over 30 pounds.

Mark rather happily keeps mentioning how much my silhouette has changed and how I look smaller every week. He looks leaner and fitter than he has in the last almost-20 years, too. Good! And none of this has felt stressful or deprived.

Thank heavens we gave this a chance after that ‘Michelin Man Moment’ back in January when I realised that eating fabbo French cheese, bread, and pastries had made me just plain fat. Our diet now revolves around quality protein in the form of meat, fish, and eggs along with brightly coloured vegetables and fruit — NO grains, NO dairy other than a drop of milk in our coffee and butter on our sweet potatoes, NO legumes, NO corn. But we are awash in wonderful food choices and we no longer have blood sugar ups-and-downs.

The first thing I noticed was that my joints and bones didn’t ache any more, then that I slept more deeply and insomnia has practically disappeared, and THEN the inches started to drop off.

 

Clothing for Ebay sales or donations

Clothing for Ebay sales or donations


 
Clothing for Ebay sales or donations

Clothing for Ebay sales or donations


 
Clothing for Ebay sales or donations

Clothing for Ebay sales or donations


 

There is a happy, happy woman here typing this and I decided today to finally share just how much progress I have made. I’m purging in another way. As you can see from the pictures above of a SMALL sample of the stacks of things I am working my way through, 90% or more of my wardrobe is going away right now. And even clothes we bought 6 weeks ago in the USA are now getting too big. This is a lifestyle change that we have joyously embraced!

Back soon!

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Totally Transfixed in Melbourne, Australia

Had to share this with you. As I was pressing the shutter, I knew I had captured a unique moment. The three men sitting motionless on the bench and the woman standing as still as a statue were all completely mesmerised by the same thing — an art installation at the NGV museum in Melbourne, Australia which consisted of a long strand of what appeared to be metallic tape as it was blown back and forth between two large electric fans. It was an interestingly silent moment!

 

3 seated men & 1 standing woman are mesmerised by metal tape blowing between 2 large electric fans at the NGV art museum in Melbourne, Australia

3 seated men & 1 standing woman are mesmerised by metal tape blowing between 2 large electric fans at the NGV art museum in Melbourne, Australia


 

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Leaving France In A Week. Yikes!

We’ve had some amazing blessings in the last few days and (Universe, are you listening?) they are VERY much appreciated and acknowledged. Now if we could just sell the 3 piece bathroom suite that we got in anticipation of renovating a house here in France (small sigh!) and sell the 6 month old gas cooking stove, we’d really be laughing!

After the dastardly movers cancelled with 9 days before the scheduled pick-up, I put the move back up on the AnyVan website in the UK and started taking bids again. I don’t know if they offer this sort of service in Australia, the USA, or Asia — but it’s a godsend for those of us living in Europe.

You put the details of your move online, list what you have, and then different moving companies compete for your job by submitting bids. They are dealing with the AnyVan website and you are quite safe because all they have is your user name — no address details and so forth.

Within 24 hours, new bids starting rolling in and many of them were quite a lot higher than our previous contract. But through some frank discussions of what we could and could not afford, we managed to get a proper registered moving company (not just a man and a van!) that is sending a full size moving truck down here with 2 drivers to pick up all of our things on the 30th — NEXT WEDNESDAY!

I sold my Peugeot last week to a couple from England who are still over there and they won’t be back in France until February. But we arranged to deliver the car to their village near Mirepoix and hand the paperwork and keys over to their charming neighbour Aidan. He was a simply wonderful surprise on an on-and-off sunny then overcast Sunday and we had several hours of stimulating conversation at his kitchen table. It’s a shame we didn’t meet before we were getting ready to leave the country — but I feel like we will stay in touch.

I’ve just secured a storage unit for us in Norfolk in an insured, clean, indoor building and not a damp and cold outdoor shipping container style lock-up. So we will feel very peaceful about leaving our things safely tucked up there whilst we visit Mark’s parents in Norfolk for a wee bit and then get on the road to the Midlands, Yorkshire, and perhaps on up to Scotland to decide where we would like to live and work next. It’s another adventure and you just know there will be lots of stories and photos along the way!

I have dozens of photos to share from our 3 day trip to Toulouse a week ago, but there is simply no time to do that right now. Photo editing is out — packing dozens of boxes is in — simple as that. And in between the sessions of packing, we are squeezing in last minute dinners, lunches, and drinks with our friends here in France that we will miss quite a lot.

All for now. The packing tape and rolls of bubble-wrap are singing to me!

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Life Changes, Life Planning, & Leaving France

Saying goodbye to France was something that we had not considered when we moved here last year, settled in, bought furniture and appliances, and began to make friends. But recent changes in the taxation structure since the election of Francois Hollande as President of France, the bureaucratic quagmire that all of us who move to France are forced to endure, pension issues, and several other boulders in the road that frequent readers of this site will already be acquainted with, have made this a place where we no longer wish to invest our emotional energy or our money. We are moving on after 10 months here in the South of France — with regret — but the decision has now been made and we are in the process of sorting out our last few weeks here in St. Girons.

And where are we going next? Well, to be truthful, we aren’t certain! We are flinging ourselves into the arms of the angels again, waiting to see where feels right, and then trusting that our choice is a good one. Our furniture and 100-plus boxes are being picked up in 2 and 1/2 weeks and taken to England to go back into storage. But then the fun begins as we go back on the road for awhile and we look for someplace to settle down. Living out of a suitcase wore us out after a year the last time and after spending almost 9 months in Normandy, we stopped moving in St. Girons. Who knows where we will be when we send for the household goods the next time!

 

A quiet moment between two women visitors at MACBA, the contemporary art & design museum in Barcelona, Spain.


 

The next few months should be very ‘interesting’ and we’ll need to be flexible. There is an unfolding book about life in France as an expat and I’ve even written the introduction chapter — but we’ll discuss that in another article.

Right now we are making lists of things to do, notifying the utility company, and packing-packing-packing. (again!)

Stay tuned as we find our feet on shifting sands!

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Barcelona Market Shopping At Night

Photos of the day for today are from the huge enclosed market — the Boqueria Market — which was dedicated in the mid-1800s and which is easily accessed from the wide and tree-lined pedestrian walkway of La Rambla.

We had a pleasant stroll though this market and took a small packet of chocolate truffles back to our apartment. It was quite a happy and lively atmosphere and I was surprised to see just how many people were out at night buying their fruit, vegetables, and all other manner of food products.

 

Cut fruit dealer at the Boqueria Market in Barcelona, Spain


 

Happy night-time shoppers in the Boqueria Market in Barcelona, Spain


 

 

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