But no. A really great thing about living in France is...
...you won't find that in Peter Mayle. Noz is a discount, end-of-line type store found in big ugly sheds on the edge of most towns of any size throughout la belle France. It is the place where one can indulge in delightful, serendipitous retail therapy and barely feel it. You have to have the right mentality, of course. Tom who, like many though not all men, prefers to go to a shop for something in particular, find it, buy it and come away again, can't be doing with it, though he enjoys what I bring back. The first time you walk in, you look about and think ' How awful! What am I doing here?'. On subsequent visits you think, hmm, not much here today, I won't be here long, but then the spell of Noz begins to work, and you start looking properly, and Finding Things. I don't think I have ever left empty-handed.
There is little logic to how things are displayed, indeed, display is really not an appropriate usage here. You are quite likely to find bits of tawdry tarty underwear in amongst the pickled gerkins, Swiss chocolate amongst the loo brushes, plastic plants in with the hosiery...
And you don't need to be to dainty and fastidious about your shopping environment, the floor is concrete, the bins chipboard and plastic, and the light is mostly provided by a few suspended neon tubes and some bits of clear corrugated plastic set into the roof.
Here is today's haul,
-Three clip frames of rather odd proportions. Not sure what I'll do with these but I often crop my pictures into odd proportions so they may have a destiny.
-One chunky blue candle. Tom can entertain himself for hours poking burning candles with dead matches and only burns himself occasionally, so this should keep him out of my hair for a bit.
-One 625 gr jar of redcurrant jelly, no kitchen cupboard should be without.
-One small aluminium saucepan, non-stick with a design of strawberries not only on its sides but in the little circle in the centre of its bottom. I simply couldn't resist that. There were ones with oranges and lemons and flowers too, but the strawberries won easily.
-Pack of three (label, not that I give a stuff about labels unless I get them really cheap from Noz)cotton socks for Tom - bless them.
-Rhubarb and yoghurt filled German chocolates. This is only the packet as we scoffed the lot as soon as I came home. They were delicious and really did taste of rhubarb and yoghurt.
-Packet of assorted sunflower seeds, the multi-headed multicoloured ones for cutting.
-Pack of ten sheets photo paper. Not quite as cheap as Carrefour's everyday photo paper I use for making cards etc, but this might be better quality. Worth experimenting.
-2008 calendar with pictures of angels from Old Masters. I bought it for the pictures, we've already got several calendars for this year: a dreadful one someone gave us of pictures of the Peloponnese from the air, weirdly Photoshopped and mostly in Greek, so we'd probably end up inadvertantly celebrating Easter a month late; another I bought last year with mediocre photos of Brittany with a view to copying the date pages and making my own (didn't get round to), both of which are rather too small, and finally a Harry Potter one which I capitulated and let Tom have, in fact it's rather well designed, though I'm not looking forward to June when there's a scary picture of Voldemort sticking his tongue out. I actually prefer calendars with paintings on, as we put them in the loo and consequently spend quite a lot of time looking at them. If they're photos and not much good I'm iritated by them, if they are good I'm disheartened and jealous. Story of my life.
-Two gel pens and two fineliners.
-Two pairs quite girly socks with slightly frilly tops for me.
The total came to 20. 70 euros ( I've got a euro sign here somewhere but don't know how to work it...). That's a bit more in pounds than it used to be, but still not very much, no idea how much in dollars. I daresay quite abit of it came from China and I should rightly feel guilty about it, but not all of it, and most of it's fairly useful and not totally wanton and wasteful consumption...
My cup runneth over. Quality of life comes in many guises.