Excuse my French

Detail from the book cover

Local writer Sally Pattinson has just published her entertaining account of a decade spent in France where her dreams of a gallic idyll turned into a French farce.

Back in 1990 when Sally and her family moved to the French countryside near Boulogne, their new house was being built in the hamlet of Wierre Effroy and life looked rosy. But with a husband who was increasingly working away, and who later went to Germany then disappeared, Sally found herself abandoned in a foreign country with two children, Tom and Lorraine, to look after. “A Bit Of French Stick” relates how events turned a respectable English woman into “a rebel and a smuggler” in order to survive, and describes her family’s adventures and the various scrapes she got into.

Along the way, Sally recalls some of the intriguing characters she met, such as Punky and Mad Tim; her encounters with gendarmes, French officials and plain clothes spies who seemed convinced she was a drug smuggler; and the friendships she made that helped her get through the variety of hardships she endured. The book includes entertaining tales of Ali Baba the amorous donkey, the use of strategically placed tattoos, and taking part in a sting operation. And Sally’s chronicle is interspersed with anecdotes of a strip search, a succession of vehicle woes, a spending spree in Lille’s IKEA as well as an incident with a blow-up doll!

From market trading to opening her own music T-shirt shop called “Malice”, and organising Rockstock music festivals, Sally’s book charts her development as an entrepreneur. Yet it also reveals a woman determined to provide the best for her family in trying circumstances, and demonstrates how she was able to “face adversity with fortitude” and return to the UK with a treasure trove of fantastic memories. The moral of this story might be: don’t mess with a dame in Doc Marten boots.

The book is a prequel to “Brace Yourselves Boys”, Sally’s story of life when she returned to the UK (see Rye News “Sally Sets The Record Straight”). “A Bit Of French Stick” can be purchased on Amazon for £7.99 in paperback or for just £1.15 as a Kindle edition.

Image Credits: Tom Pattinson .


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