Of Course You Realise… How French Women Work Out

I had to share this as a Monday smile – it make me laugh!  It’s obviously completely factually correct – that is how all French women exercise in France 😉

This post is part of my ‘Of Course You Realise’ series, a collection of random or interesting or funny things I find during my meandering on the internet. 

B is for… Betrayal on the Gravel

*The theme for my A to Z is Childhood Stories. Some are real, some are embellished, some are downright fictional but are based on the kind of things I imagined when I was younger.*

I am the eldest of four children, and also the eldest of all my cousins on both sides of the family. The thing with being the eldest, is that you are thought of as being reliable. You can be given responsibility. You can be trusted with things… Things such as, for example, distributing mints given to you by your parents among your brothers (my sister wasn’t born yet) and cousin.

“Go share them with the others,” they said.

The mints were white and hard, and they looked like marbles or rounded stones. I popped one in my mouth. It was sweet, and strong enough to make my throat and mouth go cold when I inhaled, but not too strong.

“Ok, I will,” I said, heading off.

I didn’t want to share the mints. Why should I? The mints were delicious, and my brothers and cousin being boys were less mint-worthy than I was. I went for a long walk around my grandparents’ garden (they had a very big garden), avoiding my brothers and cousin.

They found me as I came around from the back of the house.

“What you eating?” my cousin asked.

I had the mints in my pocket, but the gravel of the driveway gave me an idea.

“I’m sucking on a stone from the driveway,” I said.

“No you’re not.”

“Yes I am, look.” I spat my mint out, now all misshapen and slick with saliva, onto my hand. It did look a little gravel like.

My cousin frowned.

“Why you sucking the gravel?” asked one of my brothers.

“Because it’s nice,” I said. “It’s all smooth.”

And I sat down on the gravel, popping the mint back in my mouth. My brother didn’t hesitate long before sitting next to me and putting a piece of gravel in his mouth too.

“See?” I said. “It’s nice, right?”

“Hmmm,” he replied with a frown.

My other brother followed suit, while my cousin — who was only six months younger than me — looked on.

“You’re all weird,” he said.

I shrugged. “Whatever. You’re missing out.” As I spoke I surreptitiously put a hand in my pocket and grabbed a new mint. Then I pretended to take something out of my mouth and put it on the gravel. My brothers immediately copied me. I then pretended to take another little stone, and popped the new mint into my mouth. This they also did, but of course with an actual piece of gravel.

“Yum,” I said with a smile.

One of my brothers nodded enthusiastically. I could see my cousin hesitating. After a time — such is the power of peer pressure — he sat down with us and picked up a stone.

“See, it’s nice,” I told him as he popped it into his mouth.

We sat peacefully in the driveway, the boys sucking stones, me eating mints. It was sunny and warm. It has to be said that there are few more pleasant ways to spend an afternoon than by eating mints in the sun, while knowing that you put a really good one over your siblings and cousin.

(I realise by the way that it was pretty irresponsible to have my younger brothers putting stones in their mouths what with the risk of choking etc, but I was six or maybe seven and that didn’t occur to me at the time. Just to reassure you, nothing went wrong, this is a story with a happy ending 🙂 )

A is for… Airplane

*The theme for my A to Z is Childhood Stories. Some are real, some are embellished, some are downright fictional but are based on the kind of things I imagined when I was younger.*

I had never been particularly interested in airplanes as a kid, but all that changed when reading a particular Famous Five story. The Five were on a plane that was hijacked (in French they were called sky pirates – doesn’t that sound so much more romantic?). The plane was taken off course and crash landed in the jungle where the passengers were taken hostage. Of course, the Five saved the day as well as the others (and of course nobody died in the crash. I don’t think anyone was even injured.)



I was fascinated. Now that was an adventure. A plane crash, sky pirates, jungle… It blew my young mind, and as a result I dedicated an unhealthy amount of time over the next few weeks imagining how I would fare going up against sky pirates or surviving in a jungle post plane crash.

You can imagine then what went through my head when I found out that, for our yearly trip to the south of France (I’m French but grew up in the UK) to visit my grandparents, we would be taking a plane. That was to be my first plane ride. I was convinced it would be my first proper adventure, too, and I went into paroxysms of excitement and planning — I had to be ready for the sky pirates and/or the plane crash.

I was positively fizzing with impatience as we went through the airport. I looked around at everyone, trying to spot disguised sky pirates as I waited by the gate — and I mean right by the desk where you show your ticket to the air hostess — even though there was the best of an hour to go until boarding.

Finally, we boarded. Of course there was the excitement of discovering the inside of a plane, of checking out the seats, how they reclined, how they snapped forward (and reclined, and snapped forward, and reclined — Celine! Stop that, said my father, apologising at the poor woman behind me.) Then there was the matter of the little table, and then of the pocket on the back of the seat in front, the one that contains an in flight magazine and the security card.

The security card.

As if the prospect of impending kidnapping by sky pirates and plane crashes in the jungle (never mind that there are no jungles in France, that was a minor detail) wasn’t enough, now there was a security card explaining about inflatable life vests. Not only that, but if we crash-landed there would be inflatable slides coming out of the plane doors. Inflatable slides. Talk about fun and adventures.

The air hostesses went through the security demonstration (slight disappointment that they didn’t inflate their life vests but they made up for it by showing us oxygen masks – yet another exciting plane item I didn’t know about), and we were ready for take off.

The plan backed away.

I clenched my fists with excitement and kicked the floor in anticipation.

Please crash, please crash, please crash, I prayed. Please let there be sky pirates. Please let there be sky pirates and a crash.

I repeated my prayer as we taxied down the runway. I whispered it as the plane sped up. I almost shouted it out loud as we took off.

Please let there be sky pirates!!! Please crash!!!


The plane was pirate free.

There were no technical faults, the pilot was competent, and we didn’t run out of fuel. We didn’t crash.

Instead, we landed in Nice safely, as planned. We were on time, and most definitely not in the jungle. When the doors opened and everyone started to get off, confirming that there would be nothing on the adventure front, I felt cheated. The pilot could at least have had the decency to land on the water — the sea was just there. And why didn’t anyone hijack the plane?

Disappointment doesn’t come close to expressing what I felt as we went through the airport to go meet my grandparents. Being a resilient kid (and not the kind of kid to remain disappointed when faced with the prospect of long summer holidays spent with my grandparents), I moved my expectation to the return flight. Surely that plane would crash or be hijacked.  

(It didn’t)


I should say that while I repeatedly hoped for plane crashes and sky pirates for most of my childhood, rest assured that I have long grown out of this phase. So don’t worry if you ever find yourself in a plane with me — I won’t be praying for the engine to fail…

Voices, Faces, Getting Old & a WIPpet

I debated whether to write this blog post. I’m alway so late to the party when it comes to anything new, that there’s never any point trying to share something I discovered and loved. Inevitably, when I do everyone around me is all: ‘yes Celine, we’ve all known about this for months and we all love it. Have you been hiding under a rock all this time?’

The answer is generally that yes, yes I have.

So fair warning, you’re probably already going to know about this, but I’m ploughing on ahead anyway, since this is my blog and it has to be as uncool as I am.

You know how sometimes you speak to someone on the phone, say, and your mental image of them is entirely at odds with their face when you finally meet them? I had a major case of this the other day when I discovered a singer called George Ezra (the cool ones among you are welcome to roll your eyes if you’ve known about him since before he started playing music). Continue reading

A Little Story of Television


Photo from Flickr

I grew up without a TV. While I’m not the only one out there, it’s often a bit of a shocker in this era of a PC on every desk, a Mac in every home and a TV in every living room. Now don’t think for a moment that means I grew up as a well adjusted child with little interest in TV. I was obsessed with it. Continue reading

Happy Halloween

I wish I could say this is Poppy, I really do. Sadly, I lack the creativity, skill at painting dog faces, and inclination to do so. Still, as far as Halloween costumes go, I think this one takes the biscuit.

Happy Halloween everyone!


PS: can’t credit this photo unfortunately – it was sent to me via email by a friend.

Introducing the newest member of the editing team

Hello again!

Right this is the proper return to the blog. This time it’s for reals, guys.  The Book is finished, I’m taking one last pass at it before it gets shipped out to Beta Readers. Which means that I am putting an end to my time as a recluse and shall be putting the social back into social media.

Also, I wanted to introduce you to the latest addition to the household. Now, some of you might remember that our two cats (Blue Cat and Green Cat) take a very active role in my writing. And while no one could do a better job of cutting the circulation in my legs as I write, or of staring judgementally at my writing, I needed another pair of hands. You see, The Book is quite lighthearted and tongue in cheek. Dare I say it, at times even funny (god I hope people agree or this could be really awkward). So I felt like I needed someone with expertise on fun and silliness (while the cats are discerning when it comes to adverbs and improper use of punctuation, they’re not so good with the funny).

Enter Poppy. She is seven months, and totally bonkers. You’ll notice that the fur around her eyes is lighter. Yes, our little Popster was born with built-in eye shadow. How’s that for fabulousness!


Continue reading

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

I have a confession to make. So far I’ve let you all believe that the writing on this blog (and on The Book, though you have not yet had the delight of sampling that particular bit of wordsmithery) is all mine, when it fact, very little of it comes from me.

You see, everything I write is meticulously torn apart edited by Blue Cat (look at those stern eyes, that disapproving stares as he picks out all my instances of weak writing):IMG_1688 Continue reading

Calvin and Hobbes on imagination and escapism.

Today, I wanted to write a post on escapism and imagination (did the title give that away? No way!) I started working on this post as I do all blog posts, by groping around the edge of the idea I want to write about, with all the skill and savoir-faire of a teenage boy on prom night.

I wanted to find a way to communicate just how important imagination is, how much we all (big and small) need to escape to the imaginary places that we or others have created.

As ever I was far more eloquent in my head when I was busy imagining said post (if only reality would catch up to my imagination, I’d be a literary goddess) – when it was time to perform, I found my powers of expression somewhat lacking. Luckily, we live in a digital age, where the Internet rules supreme and has the answer to everything. It gave me this Calvin and Hobbes strip. Breathtakingly simple as always: the sadness of a life without imagination, with a little side of commentary on the current tendency to throw medication at everything (pin it). Continue reading

T is for Test (of the driving variety)

I hold my hands up in hang my head in shame – I am in my very (very) late twenties and I still can’t drive.

I grew up in London and moved to Hong Kong. I had no need for a car in London, I have even less of a need for a car in Hong Kong. Hence why I’ve done nothing to learn how to drive so far. At the same time though, I’m not in bad company. My favourite comedian Dara O’Briain didn’t learn to drive until he was 34. So I figure I have 5 years until it gets really embarrassing. I should *hopefully* be able to pass my test in the next 5 years but you never know. I might be that bad.

Anyway, it’s official, I’m finally doing something about it (and you know it’s official when it’s on the internet). I’ve signed up for driving lessons.

That’s driving lessons in Hong Kong. There’s probably going to be a session on how to toot your horn at everything that moves, and another on how to lurch around corners in a way that is guaranteed to make any passenger in the back carsick. So who knows what kind of driving skills I’ll finish up with, but at the very least I’ll have a piece of paper that says I can drive a car.

A piece of paper that I will promptly put away in a box and not look at again for years. But I’ll have it, and that’s worth something (I hope).

If you have any driving lessons advice – please share, as I will no doubt need a LOT of advice (I fear I may turn out to be a pretty poor driver, and every little bit helps). Otherwise, here is one of my favourite sketches from Dara O’Briain on what it’s like to learn to drive in your thirties.

I am praying that I have accumulated a bedrock of confidence that will allow me to deal with having someone beep their horn at me if I stall the car. So far, said bedrock of confidence is cowering in a corner somewhere and I can’t find it. I will report back after my first lesson (steady on, I’ve only just signed up, haven’t had time for a lesson yet. Need to psyche myself up first!)

Have you got any funny / bad stories from your early driving days? If so please share – mainly so I can feel better when I mess it all up once out and on the road!