Thoughts from a Sun Lounger (Part 5)

I absolutely love it when the sun is shining and those golden rays burn down out of a clear blue sky. You get up out of the swimming pool and flop down on the sun lounger and as you do, all your worries slip quietly away, just as the water from the pool drips off you and the sun dries your body. Yes, it’s the time of year for some more ‘thoughts from a sun lounger’.

Out of Office.

Finishing work for your holidays, even for a part timer like me, is always a great experience and nothing lately has given me more pleasure than setting up my ‘out of office’ message on my computer at work last week. It said ‘I am out of office until September 15th’ although what I actually meant was ‘send me all the emails you want because I don’t give a flying monkeys about any of them until September 15th!’.

New technology, don’t you just love it?

Once again Liz and I are off to France for our summer holidays. The journey down to Folkestone from Lancashire via the M55, M6, M1, M25 and M20 was actually not too bad. The only problem was that we arrived early at the Euro Tunnel terminal at Folkestone and it sent us into a false sense of security. Well, that is my excuse for leaving the terminal shops late, getting stuck in the queue at passport control and missing our shuttle! Oh well, everything turned out OK in the end. We arrived at our hotel in good time, checked in and had our first taste of French cuisine with the hotel’s plat du jour; beef stew and chips! They say French food is so good but to a great extent it’s a case of chips (frites actually) with everything!

Action Cams.

Driving down from the UK to France I decided to stick my action cam on the window and see if it is worth comparing driving on English as opposed to French roads. There’s no comparison, the French roads came out tops, even in roadworks. What I liked about stopping at some temporary lights in France was that on the lights, under the red stop signal was a countdown timer, telling you how many seconds you had left under the red light. Great idea! Pity my camera had run out of battery power just then . .

Bank Holidays.

They have bank holidays over here in France, just like in the UK. Well actually, not like in the UK but they do have bank holidays. In the UK we are, mostly, pretty sensible people. A typical bank holiday might be on a Friday for instance, which follows on quite nicely to Saturday and Sunday. Another bank holiday might be on a Monday, which again follows on quite nicely from Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes we even go one better, bank holidays on a Friday and a Monday, making a rather lovely weekend, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

What do the French do, something similar you might think? No. They will have a bank holiday on a Tuesday which does not follow on, to, or from the weekend at all. Maybe the French book a day off on the Monday or perhaps just throw a sickie in? Maybe they just go in to work on Monday then have a day off for the bank holiday. One day in, one day off, not a bad system really I suppose . . .

The Tabac.

The tabac is a great French idea. It’s a tobacco shop, mixed up with a bar -and I mean a bar like the vault of an old English pub, where the men go to play cards and pool and so on. In France they also sometimes throw a news agents and/or a corner shop into the mix so the end result is a place where you can go for a drink, buy cigarettes, get a newspaper and return home with a few groceries.

You must admit, it’s a great idea but would it work in the UK? You can imagine the situation.  The wife happens to mention to the husband, sitting in the lounge watching sport, that they are a little short on potatoes for the coming Sunday dinner. The husband jumps up; “need some spuds love? Well, I’ll just nip down to the local shop and get you some!”

He comes back hours later with a newspaper, a carrier bag containing three carrots, a turnip and an onion. He is casually singing ‘show me the way to go home’ and as he stumbles into the house he asks nonchalantly, ‘is dinner ready yet love?’

Yes, perhaps that wouldn’t work in England after all. Another thing that won’t work in the UK any more are things like those last few comments above. What is the problem? Well it’s gender bias! Yes, of course, I am sure you are thinking. Gender bias -the reason why UK TV advertisers can no longer show cosy home scenes where Dad comes home from work and Mum is getting the tea ready! They are gender bias and showing a totally incorrect representation of UK home life to poor susceptible young girls who may want to reject conventional home life and become a fireman (sorry, fireperson) or even a young man who wants to do something that, well, something that a girl would normally do!

Just hang on a minute while I re write the above and change it so it’s the guy who sends the wife out to the tabac and she comes home drunk with the wrong items. On the other hand, get real you crazy gender bias people!

The Sandwicherie.

I came a cross a new word this year in France. The sandwicherie. Yes, as the name suggests it’s a place where you can get sandwiches. I like that word, it rolls off the tongue well, it’s a little like Pizzeria, a place that serves pizzas or, actually I can’t think of another example but I’m sure you get my drift.

While in France this year I have also invented a new word, a new French word but whether it will catch on, I’m not sure. Sometimes when I’m struggling in French I sometimes try an English word with a French accent. You know, something like menu, café, salade, boutique, table and so on. In fact, if you look into it, there are quite a few words we share with the French. Quick tip: Don’t try the French word preservatif, thinking it’s the same as preservative in English. The French word means condom!

Anyway, back to my new word, it’s possiblement! It didn’t quite work when I tried it on an unsuspecting Frenchman, in fact, he gave me a rather strange look but at least it stopped him mythering me to buy something off his stall at a vide grenier! ‘Some bottle tops Monsieur? Some used phone cards?’ ‘Un moment; possiblement . .


Tea is one of those great British inventions and institutions that we, the Brits, have exported to the four corners of the world. Personally I never travel outside of the UK without a stack of teabags in my suitcase because morning, noon and afternoon, I need my tea. What would four o’clock in the afternoon be without afternoon tea? A steaming hot cuppa, a cheese sarnie, a chocolate digestive and the TV tuned to some classic TV: You can’t beat it but what have those pesky Frenchmen done with our tea? Look in any French supermarché and you will find tea, ready-made in a plastic bottle in the chilled compartments! Sacré bleu is all I can say!

If you enjoyed this post why not try my book, Floating in Space? Click the links at the top of the page for more information.

5 responses to “Thoughts from a Sun Lounger (Part 5)

  1. Pingback: A Slice of my Life | Letters from an unknown author!

  2. Pingback: Icarus, the Pool and Five Weeks in France. | Letters from an unknown author!

  3. I enjoyed your ‘Englishman abroad’ angle, Steve, though you sound to be having a nice time – if only because it’s not that four-letter word ‘work’! Fun to read – looking forward to reading your book, next in line when I’ve finished a biography of Wordsworth and a Salman Rushdie novel … 1000 pages plus, between them!

    Liked by 1 person

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