I’m starting to see France as the middle ground between Britain and Spain, a middle ground that I enjoy. While visiting Britain these past few days, Jeff and I definitely felt a little closer to home. There was the obvious language similarity of course, but many other things: slightly more efficient business practices, a greater technological saavyness, and of course, the fashion of ordering food in restaurants. The French schedule and habit of meals remains to us a code uncracked – after nearly a month, we still find ourselves negociating the territory between bar, brasserie, café, restaurant, creperie...who serves food? When? Do I order at the bar? Is service included? One conclusion - people are skinny in France because they obviously never eat at any of the above listed - only drink. However, in Britian, there is the trusty pub whose Pubgrub menu, scribbled on a chalkboard above the bar, will gladly offer patrons Bangers and Mash, Shepherds Pie and greasy “chips” at any time your belly should desire. In Britain, businesses stay open during lunch, which in France is a delightful, yet unproductive 2 hour break. Some UK businesses even open Sundays and Mondays... (Note: having made these observations, I also recognize that London is a booming international metropolis, Nantes is not. Perhaps some of these things would be different in "small town UK".)
At the other end of the equation is Spain, which I have unfortunately never visited (a major element on the proverbial "to do" list). I have heard, however, that they would put France to shame in the funky scheduling game. No breakfast, big lunch, siesta, back to work until 8pm, come home, dinner at 10:30, discoteque at 1:30, earliest, home about 6am. I think I’m thankful for France, for being relaxed enough to offer a lengthy lunch break, and no-work Sundays to stroll with the family. That said, I haven’t quite figured out how their economy will survive. Not just for the reasons listed here, but perhaps that is a discussion for another day. Until then, I can get used to late dining, lengthy mid-day breaks, and Sunday strolls. You keep working your 60-hour weeks America.
Click here for some pics from our trip to London – it was mostly a social call to spend time with our good friends Rudy and Susan Reudelhuber, and their new Baby Thad. It was incredibly refreshing to be with old friends, in a home (it even had forgotten luxuries like soft carpet, an oven, sofas, consistent internet and a big TV!!!…) we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Many thanks for their hospitality. (No pictures of either Rudy or the Reudelhuber pug, Claussen made it into our pics...We plan to meet up with them again later this fall, so more to come.)