Monday, 31 January 2011

Average Salary

I have just seen a very interesting web site that allows you to key in your town and post code and it will show you all the following information:

The population for the town or village
The net revenue per household and how many inhabitants
Average Monthly Salary for the richest 10% in the town
Average Nett salary per person, including full time and part time
Where the town comes in the list of 36 717 towns and villages
How your town compares to the surrounding towns
How the household is made up - single, couples with children etc
How the population is made up - by profession
Average salary of a working household
Average pension of a retired household.

This is available for over 36 thousand towns and villages in France, but if you are interested it gives you an idea of average salaries etc in France.

Here is the site - it is in French, but easy to follow:

On one of the forums I read, someone made a comment that maybe it is possible to live more cheaply in France if you are retired.

At the moment I don't think there is much difference between the two countries in term of living expenses. It is all getting expensive. 

I did think about doing a shop in the Uk next week and having it delivered here, but after reading Frugal's blog yesterday about the price of flour, I don't think I'll bother. I checked this morning in Lidl, and a kilo of good quality fine plain flour is 39centimes, Frugal said it was over 70p in the UK.

However I am going to start planning to do some stockpiling this month.

This was taken from their website. You can copy it into Googlre Translate and it will give you an idea of what it is all about and why the site was set up.

Ouvert au début de l'année 2009, Le site souhaite développer plus de transparence sur les niveaux de revenus en France et aider les ménages qui souhaitent déménager à mieux comprendre leur environnement futur. Sur notre site, vous pouvez ainsi accéder aux niveaux de salaire moyen des Français, de retraite et d'impôt sur le revenu dans chacune des 36 700 villes de France. Pour les villes de taille suffisante, il est même possible de connaître la répartition par tranche de revenus. Les données publiées sont issues de statistiques retravaillées de l'INSEE (2007) et du Ministère des Finances (2008).

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Mum, I've got some girls staying tonight.................

This was my eldest son's comment to us yesterday afternoon.
My response was 'Thanks for telling me', MOH's was 'Have you got one for me'
Let me put that into context for you......

For the last few years, my son; who is nearly 20, has taken over one  of the rooms in our outbuildings, that he uses to 'entertain' his mates. He has 3 sofas, a dining table and several mattresses, all of which he has recuperated from people who were throwing them out. On New Years Eve there were about 15 of them in there, and there is always at least two or three of them staying overnight. This means no-one has to drink and drive and I know they are all safe. Most of the time it is just the lads, but sometimes their girlfriends or friends who are girls are invited too.

My house is not tidy all the time, well, it's very rarely tidy. I like to know if someone is coming so that I can tidy round and at least clean the toilet. Living with 3 men, the toilet needs cleaning more often than I do it.
So when my son has his mates round - the lads- it's not a problem as they nip outside to relieve themselves (this is totally common place here. Everyday on the way to work, I can guarantee I will see at least one car stopped at the side of the road with a man standing there having a wee. Sometimes they try to be discrete but most times they just stand proud! I want to toot everytime I go past but I don't think that would go down too well - they may have an aiming problem!) but if the girls come round they have to come into the house to use the toilet. Which is fine if I am forewarned and can do a quick clean round.

So yesterday when he gave me 4 hours warning it was great - my house was clean and tidy before everyone arrived. His mates came in to say hello - they always kiss me and shake hands with MOH.

When I got up this morning there were 4 cars parked outside. They all went home about one o'clock this afternoon, but guess what - not one of the girls came in to use the loo!!

Never mind I do have a clean and tidy house now.

Internet Scabble

Until I joined the world of blogging last year, I used to be an fanatic internet scabbler.
For those of you that are not familiar with this phenomenon, you join a 'club' which allows you to play with people from all over the world and you can choose the language you want to play in. The rules are the same as board scrabble but you set your own parametres - how long do you want your game to be, do you want the computer to check your spelling for you or not etc.
Each time you win a game your points rating increases and each time you lose a game your points reduce.
Over the last week I have started to play again and started to win. It takes a while to get back into the swing 
of it, but I am now hooked again.
If anyone is interested in knowing more or playing a game, just contact me

Thursday, 27 January 2011

50 and medical tests

As you know last year I hit the youthful age of 50 and this week I received two letter from the French health service.

The first was inviting me for a mammographie and the second for a test for colon cancer.

I have already had a few mammographies here in France and they are very easy to book and well carried out - I hope. We get the results straight away and go home with the x-ray, which we have to take with us to future tests. The doctor dictates their findings immediately after the examination, this is typed up straight away with a copy for me and one sent to my doctor.

I will let you know how I get on.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A cold morning

I just had to show you this picture.
Last year I bought MOH this heat and massage slipper for a joke present.
We are working from home today and it's very cold.
Guess what he found!!
He wouldn't let me show you the rest of the picture - he has a fleecy hat on and the scarf goes right up to his ears!
The slipper is very effective - it warms your toes and gently massages your feet.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


As promised in my last post, here are some of the latest pictures of Max.

He is definitely more cocker than westie you can see that by the way he stands.

Monday, 24 January 2011

River Walk

After dropping Son N° 2 off at school at 11 o'clock (he had sports for his first lesson and as he is full of cold, he decided to give it a miss)we took Max and went for a lovely long walk. 

Last week we found a new walk just on the outskirts of Loches which has just been renovated, alongside the River Indre

This is the chateau of Loches behind us

This is the river just after it has gone through the sluice gate, very fast!!

I thought you would like this - the house is right on the river and look at the huge clock on the wall.

This is a huge polytunnel growing lettuces, which are sold in our very local supermarket.

I do have some new pictures of Max to show you but they have not arrived on my pc yet, so I will show you tomorrow.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Saturday Shopping

Saturday morning sort of disappeared.

We didn't get up until 11 o'clock which is exceptional for us.

So instead of breakfast we had brunch, did some tidying, then Son N°2 decided he wanted to go to Tours to have a look at the sales.

We only have official sales twice a year and the start and finish dates are regulated.
They usually start at 50% off , then after a couple of weeks there is another 20% off, that's where we are now.

So on Saturday afternoon we went to Tours. We did not get there until 14.30 and it was already heaving with people.

Living in the country and only going shopping to town when it is early, to avoid the crowds, Saturday afternoon was a bit of an eyeopener.

It has been a long time since I have been in such close physical contact with so many people. We were jostled and moved through the streets.

Sur la Place Jean Jaurès

As Son N°2 knew which shops he wanted to go into, MOH & I spent most of our time outside the shops watching people going past. I had forgotten how much fun people watching is.

All this makes me sound like a country yokel, in the UK I lived and worked in Chester, a large city, but it is surprising how quickly you get out of the habit of having so many people around you.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Favourite Meal

Tonight we had my eldest son's favourite meal -

Confit de canard with potatoes fried in duck fat

The confit de canard comes in a large tin which you have to take the top and bottom off with a tin opener.
Then I scrape off as much of the fat as I can and then the lump of 4 legs goes into the steamer to get rid of the rest of the fat.

After about 30 minutes of gentle steaming, I put the legs onto a rack in a very hot oven to crisp up.
The skin should be very crispy.

While this is in the oven, I boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes, then fry them in the melted duck fat.


What is your favourite meal?

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Door to Door Selling

My eldest son is desperately looking for a job since leaving university in December.
He has left his CV with about 15 of the temp agencies in our area, and has been ringing them every few days to see if they have any jobs, but to no avail.

Last week he found a job advert on one of the free internet sites and went for an interview. He was told the job was selling door to door and at the moment they were selling teddy bears, which had been bought in the UK. I don't know what the significance of this was - maybe people would think they were better quality!

He would have a fixed salary of 800€ per month with bonus on top depending how many teddies he sold.
You can imagine our reaction to this job. As parents you want the best for your child and always hope there may be something more suitable round the corner.

Not that I have any problem at all with door to door sales, providing it is for a reputable company, selling reputable products.

As this was the only prospect he had, he decided to have a go. He was told that the first few days would not be paid as it was classed as training days and if he wanted to work for the company they would then decide if he had been successful.

On Monday he drove to Tours to start the job. From there he was taken in a minibus to another city about 1h30 minutes away. There were 4 or 5 young men.

He rang me mid afternoon to say that he would be back home after 21.00 because they had to work in the evening to speak to people when they got home from work.

This morning I called him to find out how he had got on, as I did not speak to him all day yesterday. He said he was outside the company's office and did not know whether he should continue today. We spoke about how he was feeling, how much it was costing him in petrol to get to Tours and what other jobs may be available. In the end he decide to not work with them any more.

He came to our office and we talked. He told me how the person he was with was making the sales and how much money he was making....

When they got to the designated city, they were taken to a housing estate or flats and told to get on with it.

The spiel was that the young man had been offered a CDI contract (permanent fixed contract) with this company, but he had to prove that he could sell before he was given the job. They had to sell these teddies and the more they sold the more points they got, which meant if they got enough points they would be taken on permanently. (This young man had actually been working for this company for over 2 years and last month earned over 2000€)

The teddy bears are sold at 40€ each.

People took pity on this young man and to help him get a permanent job they bought the teddies!!!!

I think after this experience he has seen that it is easy to earn money if you con people, but you have to live with it.

Also hopefully he will be able to use this for his next job interviews when he says he did not work with this company because he did not like their methods of selling.

A good learning experience all round - I hope

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Two car family

For all the time I have been driving - about 30 years, we have been lucky enough to have two cars.

We both needed a car for work and for about 18 years I had a company car.

Two cars was something we just took for granted

However since August when I started on our road to frigality we have only been using one car.

Sometimes it is a bit inconvienient, but we have managed well.

This has reduced our petrol bill from well over 400€ a month, right down to under between 150€ to 200€.

We live over 30kms from work and MOH also needs the car to get to companies where we teach in their premises.

Today is the first day since August that we have brought two cars to work.

I have a meeting in Blois with one of our clients this afternoon and MOH is teaching in the other side of Tours, so we have to use both cars.

It felt quite strange driving in to work on my own this morning.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Sunday Walk in the Forest

The weather today has been lovely, over 16°, bright blue skies with just a hint of wind.

I managed to get 4 loads of washing dry on the line.

This afternoon we went for a walk in the forest of Loches.

Here are some of the pictures

This is Max fast asleep in the car on the way home

Piggies Heaven Bacon

Here is the latest piece of bacon MOH has made.

The piece of meat had been in the freezer for a while, so MOH made up the salt mixture, then marinated it for 5 days, after that it had to firm up in the fridge for another couple of days.

Today was the day to taste it.

He cut a few slices and we fried them to check it was OK and boy was it lovely.

So we will be having bacon sandwiches a few times this week!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Trying to type quietly......

..... because I am sitting in one of our larger training rooms with three young - well youngish - well younger than me - gentlemen.

They are taking a TOEIC exam. For those of you that are not familiar with TOEIC, it stands for Test Of English for International Communication (TOEIC) . The TOEIC Listening & Reading Test is a two-hour multiple-choice test consisting of 200 questions evenly divided into listening, comprehension and reading comprehension. Each candidate receives independent scores for written and listening comprehension on a scale from 5 to 495 points. The total score adds up to a scale from 10 to 990 points.
Most companies look for a minimum score of 750 as this is the score set by the Grandes Ecoles to award a diploma.
We work with our students to help them achieve their target score and then they can pass the test in our Training centre. They will get their results within 10 days.

The people I have here today have been working towards the test through 2010 and when I did a mock test with them in November they all scored highly - some up in the top 900s, so we will see how the real test goes.

I have another 4 people from the same company here on Monday morning.

My day yesterday went well with my young Stagiaire, she did everything I asked her to do and asked loads of questions. She was very nervous of answering the phone, but luckily for her I only got one call all afternoon, so I took the call.

This morning I was at a Comité de Pilotage (steering committe) with the Chamber of Commerce. We have a network to help companies improve their business opportunities so that they can grow and be more successful. We met a speaker who will come to our next meeting and talk about using on-line networks such as face book, viadeo and others, to help businesses target potential clients. Very interesting it was. The presentation will be at the begining of February.

Tomorrow is MOH's birthday and we have to come into work. We have a client who can only have his lessons on a Saturday morning, because his training has to be outside working hours, so we will be here for a couple of hours, then maybe we will go somewhere nice for lunch in Tours.

I don't remember the last time we went out - just the two of us.!!

I have just discovered it is very difficult to type quietly!!!!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Early morning bargains

This morning I needed to nip to Lidl to get a sandwich for MOH's lunch.

Normally I bring lunch in with me for both of us, but my fridge is empty at the moment and we ate the leftovers last night.

Lidl is 3 minute walk away from the office!

Today I was lucky. It is the first time I have been there so early in the morning - 08.45.

This week they have the XXL promotion on, so I bought

2 x 1KG mince - normally 5.99€, this morning minus 30% = 4.19€ the kilo
3 x Chicken escalopes - normally 3.19€, this morning 30% off = 2.23€ per pack.
I know for all you people in the UK it is normal to get things cheaper when they get close to the sell by date, but here it is very unusual, although Lidl have started to do it with their meat.

I feel quite pleased with myself and a good start to the day.

I will have a young girl with me today. She is the daughter of one of our teachers. She is doing a stage for a week. Every child in their last year of college has to do at least one stage in a company, then they have to do a presentation about their week and what they learnt.
College is the equivilant of high school - 11 - 15 years

I have a list of things to go through with her and some jobs for her to do.

I hope she will also be able to join me in a lesson for 30 minutes when I talk to one of our students who is having a two week intensive course to prepare him for a business trip to the USA.

I will ask her to answer the phone and she can sit in on a telephone lesson this afternoon.

She is bi-lingual Engish and French, so she can talk English with our students and French on the phone for me.

I will let you know how it goes

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Teaching English

I thought you might like a laugh tonight.

One of my Teachers sent me these pictures. She suggested that China might be the place for us to work.....


The key to existance is pushing..

Looks like the translation software has gone up in smoke

Have a careful suicide

Still don't understand - maybe an accident prone area.

Data Breaker??

Bottled water in a can??

Very descriptive!

....... Okay

For taking care of the most important treasure ..

Have you met them??

Thanks for the suggestion


Unusual way to pass away!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

What do you do to help you get to sleep?

I have just read an article in the Daily mail about insomnia, where an old Eastenders actor explains how he has dealt with his insomnia by slowing his heart rate down.

In the article it states that :
'Insomnia is defined as regularly taking 30 minutes or more to get to sleep, difficulty staying asleep at night, or waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep'

If that definition is true we must all suffer from insomnia at one time or another.

I never go to sleep as soon as I go to bed - I either read or play solitaire on my telephone until my eyes feel really heavy and I drop off.

The worst for me is when I wake up in the middle of the night and I can't get back to sleep. I try all the different tricks I have learnt - counting backwards from 200, breathe slowly, imagine you are floating, imagine you are looking at a waterfall (that is a good one), although my favourite one is to imagine I have won the lottery big time - 10 million pounds or more. I now know exactly what I would do with the 10million, right down to the last £100,000. I just have to do it each week to stand a chance of winning!

Anyway, having read this article I will try the new method suggested and see if it works.

What do you do to help you get to sleep at night - all ideas accepted.

Monday, 10 January 2011

You know you're getting old when ...........

I know I'm only 50 and 50 is supposed to be the new 30 or something

but there are times when I do feel my age.

Yesterday I was trying to thread a needle to sew a button onto MOH's trousers. I could just about see the hole, the thread was close to the hole but it would not go in. MOH had to come and do it for me. He has always had terrible eyesight compared to me so this was a real downer.

As you know I have two teenage boys, and they like to listen to music. Most times we see eye to eye regarding their listening choices, my youngest son even has a lot of my music on his mp3 player, but recently the noise coming from the TV music channels just seems much louder and more irritating than usual, so much so that I have to tell them to turn it off or find a quieter channel.

MOH and I sat and watched Grumpy New Year's Eve on the 31st and sometimes that's how we are - sitting there grumbling at the TV - or swearing at it in MOH's case.

Maybe we should get out more.

We did go for a lovely walk yesterday with the dogs. Max was off his lead for nearly an hour and well behaved, except he keeps wanting to bite Miss. He walks through her legs and nibbles her ears and her neck. She is getting very fed up of it now. I keep telling her to put him in his place but she doesn't listen.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Happy New Year to you all

Hello again.
I have not been away or done anything special, I just did not feel in the right frame of mind to post.

Christmas was very quiet, just the four of us, then I had a day in bed on the Wednesday and read the latest Dan Brown book cover to cover. MOH thought I was swinging the lead and just wanted a day in bed but I did feel unwell - then guess what- on New year"s Eve he went down with the same thing but he didn't go to bed!

New Years's Eve was just the two of us.
Eldest son, had a party in his room with his mates, about 14 I think. The courtyard in front of our house was full of cars. (His room is in one of our outbuildings where he has been welcoming any old settees, tables, rugs etc from his friends to furnish the room. He must have about 10 foam mattresses that someone gave him and these are used regularly by his friends who stay over. There is a pervading smell of alcohol and cigarettes in the room, but they are happy and at least I know where they are.)
Youngest Son went to a party at one one his friends armed with a sleeping bag and a bottle of cider. However I did have a quick look in his rucksack, and guess what, there was a bottle of vodka hiding in there. He had asked his brother to buy it for him. As you can imagine, we had a rather stern chat with him.

As we had planned to go to our neighbour's for the evening, I did not have anything special for dinner, so we had some left overs from E's party - rice salad and potato salad with ham and cheese, and very nice it was too. No wine, just tea.
We were in bed for 11.30, tucked up nice and warm.

Back to work on Monday as usual with lots of things to do for 2011.

For me the last couple of months have been a bit weird. I have not wanted to do anything - very lazy - procrastination has become my middle name and losing my rag at the slightest thing.

I am reliably informed that this is probably the wonderful hormones, so I have have just started to take the 5-HTP that I posted about before Christmas. I will let you know how it goes.

Speak to you all tomorrow