Cheek kissing and croissants

Apparently in southern France it's "chocolatine" and in northern France it's "pain au chocolat". Limousin is in the middle so it seems to be both. Either way, Delia decided no more mass produced bulk buy (bags of 10) croissants or pains au chocolat and now we have a Friday lunchtime delivery of two of each (of the four deliveries per week by three different purveyers of good things French we chose the most jolly one). It means that now, as I write I have just had a lovely fluffy croissant with fig jam (made by my neighbour from figs scrumped from a holiday home garden opposite our houses) and an equally fluffy (I prefer feulliteé - translating as leafy or sheety). There is a web site : www.chocolatineoupainauchocolat.fr which discusses this important issue.

Cheek kissing (faire la bise), two cheeks, one on each should be enough? But how many seems to be as regional as chocolatine/pain au chocolat   There was a recent article discussing how much time was spent with the business of cheek kissing in France. To us English its a novel and often unwanted intimacy usually reserved for maiden aunts etc but here in France its an embedded ritual learnt from an early age. I have sat waiting in the local Mairie (Town Hall) waiting whilst every person returning from their two hour lunch break goes around the entire office cheek kissing everyone - each returning worker does the same. And they've already done it in the morning and they will do it as they leave. Where we live, two... one each side, seems to be the tradition (though for me at least its only with women, poor Delia has to "faire les bises" with everyone, though to be fair she is much prettier than me). As this map shows there's quite a regional variation and none too predictable either , we seem to be within just a few kms of a three cheek zone! we live in the black spot in the middle of the map). The key shows up to 5 though I can't see anywhere with the shading for that, even so, working in a 4 zone must badly affect productivity!

You may know that having finished out bathroom redo (and notwithstanding the ongoing re-pointing) our next project is to "redo" the living room. The ongoing plan has involved

  • looking at laminate flooring to cover the old woodworm trails in the otherwise beautiful (though dark) chestnut floor.
  • what paint to use on the beams
  • Whether to paint grey between the beams
  • designing and painting a wallsized shelving and sideboard unit
  • hide the tv

So, with a view to pack out the supporting beams to the floor (which was slightly uneven) I was down in the cave (cellar). The beam had been woodworm damaged and some beams had been "sistered" (new beams placed alongside weakened ones) and I had sprayed extensively shortly after we had moved in. Unfortunately, as it transpires, not extensively enough. As I looked to remove some of the damaged wood I found that the newer beams were, to put it succinctly, disintegrating.  Untreated we would have found ourselves dropping 6 feet in the sofa whilst watching tv (probably during a home improvement program).

So, the choices are to either fill the cave with concrete and sell the house  pretending that it was "sans cave" or rip out the entire floor, beams and professionally control the woodworm. Still awaiting quotes (or anyone to actually want to do the work for that matter). So watch this space.

I have been going to a new French class where we mostly read the newspaper. Out loud that is, very helpful for my pronounciation and especially speeding up the figuring out of how to say years - e.g. 1895 is mille huit cents quatre vingts quinze. The way we read out, doesn't give much time to read ahead so it has been good practive for me. I am also reading much more about french politics than I might otherwise do. Enough to know that the presidential race is between Marine le Penn (Front National) and Emmanuel Macron (not Front National ). The way it works here is that if no one gets an overall majority in the first  vote (and 25% and 27% respectively is what is currently predicted) it goes to a second vote.  The predictions on that are 68% for Macron and only 25% for Marine. Marine's power base in the very south seems to be a 3 kissing region, pity its not a 5 kiss region then perhaps they might not have time to all vote!

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