Eccentric British Behaviour

Apparently today is officially the first day of Autumn. Which, in the sunny south west of France, means that, despite the fact that the sun is shining, the sky is blue and Meteo France is forecasting 26 degrees in Saint Girons for this afternoon, everyone here is now wearing winter coats and winter boots. Well, everyone that is except for us – the crazy famille anglaise.

An autumn day in Saint Girons

As we arrive at school on another perfect, sunny morning, nobody actually says the words, irresponsible mother – or certainly not within my hearing – but the slightly shocked looks as each new parent and teacher clocks my children’s bare knees and toes, say it all. I fear that, if this was England, I would probably be reported to social services for cruelty to children.

There is no doubt that there is a noticeable chill in the air in the mornings now; a warning that colder weather is not that far away. To put this in a British context however, we are still eating every meal outside on the terrace and by mid-afternoon it is definitely too hot to sit in the sun. This is better than English summers that I remember and, being forever British at heart, there is no way that I am going to waste any opportunity to make the most of every last warm ray of summer (or autumn) sun. Of course winter has its own pleasures but I am not ready for them yet. It is another of the many reasons we live in this glorious part of the world where the summers seem to go on and on. Much as I love England, I have always struggled with those endless long grey months whereas here winter proper doesn’t really start until December and, even then, it is usually bright and sunny, albeit cold, with that wonderful, mood-enhancing southern light.

Luckily, one of the many good things about being an English family in France is that we can get away with odd behaviour which our friends and neighbours here happily put down to typical British eccentricity. And of course, there’s nothing the French like better than us behaving in ways that confirm their beliefs about England – such as the wearing of t-shirts in September which clearly proves that we grew up in such a truly horrible climate that we are inured to the cold and thus can get away with wearing summer clothes in September when normal people are wearing jumpers and fur lined boots. Being British, we are expected to behave strangely, thus we can (and do) get away with so much more. Personally I rather like this role of eccentric abroad.


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