If the Sunshine Blogger Award is about bringing kindness and positivity into the lives of readers, count me in. That was my reaction when Joyce Hopewell of the Eyes in the Back of my Head blog nominated me.
If you’re not familiar with the award, you have to answer 11 questions if you’re nominated and link back to the person who nominated you. So, here are Joyce’s questions of me, and my answers.
What motivated you to start writing your blog?
I started the blog at a time when the idea of starting a new life in France and was little more than a seed in my mind. I’d fallen back in love with France a year or so earlier – I’d studied here in the 1980s as part of my degree– and blogging seemed a good way to share that love.
I set myself the goal of publishing a post every day for the first year. In hindsight, that was complete madness, but I did learn a lot more about France during that first year.
What is the closest you’ve come to death?
I once fell asleep at the wheel for just a second. Fortunately, I woke up before hitting the central reservation. I don’t know if I would have died, but the experience certainly shook me up.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
Ha! I guess I’d go for dog. I’m loving, loyal… and cute 😉
What is your favourite meal?
As a foodie, this is probably the hardest of all the questions.
At home, I love a good bœuf bourguignon – it’s one of my favourite things to make myself – but I also love lemon sole in a beurre noisette with capers. Oh, and magret de canard and pommes rissolées.
When eating out, I especially enjoy tasting, or dégustation, menus, where you get loads of small courses. I eat almost any type of food, so I’m usually happy to let the chef prepare whatever he likes on the day.
If you could time travel, where would you go?
London in the 1960s. That would have been a fun time to be alive. I’m a big fan of the music of the 1960s – I run a website about European female singers of the 1960s, called Ready steady girls!
Last year, I co-authored a book about Françoise Hardy, so the era is definitely a passion of mine.
What is your most treasured possession?
My navy-blue Paul Smith three-quarter length wool overcoat.
I bought it in the sales about five years ago and I wear it throughout the cold weather – to the point where I’m almost sad to see winter end. (Trust me, I never thought I’d feel that way about winter.)
Who had the greatest influence on you when you were growing up?
When I was growing up, my parents had the greatest influence on me, as you’d expect. I think it was really once I went away to university that I really developed my own perspective on the world.
Living abroad for a year during my studies changed my outlook hugely.
What one thing would you like to see more of in the world?
Tolerance. As a gay man, that’s really important to me.
Don’t let anybody tell you that you get used to being abused or discriminated against. You don’t. You get a bit more hardened to it each time, but it’s still a shock when, out of the blue, someone starts calling you names or worse.
What is your favourite blog post out of those you’ve already written?
I’ve written 640 posts over the past seven years, so there are plenty to choose from. I don’t have a favourite, but I tend to like the ones that make me remember bits of my past.
You receive a surprise windfall of £20,000. What will you do with it?
My partner, Damon, and I are in the middle of having a 13th century property renovated and converted into a cheese-and-wine bar with chambres d’hôtes in Belvès, in Dordogne. (Please follow us on Facebook or Instagram, if you’d like to.)
Any money that came our way right now would be used for that. Either that or we’d use it to help us weather out the coronavirus and the impact it may have on our first summer there.
Who is your favourite author?
Ah, an easy question to finish with. Armistead Maupin, for his Tales of the City series. If you don’t know the books, they’re set in San Francisco in the 1970s and 1980s and follow the lives of a household of colourful characters.
Agatha Christie would be my runner-up, for her Miss Marple novels.
The other thing you’re supposed to do as part of the Sunshine Blogger Award process is nominate 11 other bloggers for the award.
However, not everyone sees the award as a gift that keeps giving. So, I’ll set 11 questions and if you’re reading this and would like to answer them, please do so – and don’t forget to let me know.
Here they are.
- Why did you start your blog?
- What do you enjoy most about blogging?
- Which is your favourite blog post you’ve written?
- What do you hope the world will learn from the coronavirus?
- If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
- What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
- What drink do you order in a bar at the end of a hard day?
- What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
- What would you do if you won 100 million euros on the lottery?
- Which would you choose to stay in on holiday: a hotel, B&B, caravan or tent – and why?
- What song would you like played at your funeral?
Over to you. And thanks again, Joyce.