I’m passionate about business and entrepreneurial spirit. I love how people come to live in France, and in the need to put bread on the table, manage to carve out a niche for themselves, and set up as self-employed. This is despite the horrendous cotisations and bureaucracy we encounter. France may have invented the word entrepreneur, but bureaucracy is also a French word and in my view, they are better at the latter! Who hasn’t seethed when they have been on the receiving end of an insolent fonctionnaire shrug , worthy of a Catherine Tate “Suis-je bovvered?” sketch? I’ve found this difficult to cope with when working alone - if you are part of a team, you can vent your spleen then get on with life, but sitting in your own office, things rankle and I can find it difficult to let it go…

Like many, I work from ‘SoHo’ - Small office, home office - and it can be lonely and frustrating at times. This is partly why I set up the Normandy Business Group, as there are many of us plugging away in offices and workshops set up in spare bedrooms, the barn, the shed, the attic, the study… The group has 63 members, some of whom are French and has attracted attention from individuals and the media across France in its first 3 months of existence. We are looking to ‘twin’ with other similar groups - I have found groups in Riviera, Nantes, Toulouse, Gers… very exciting times!

I have been across the Channel again, this time for the UK Big Jelly - a convergence of Jelly groups from across the UK. What a fantastic concept! It started in the US, but has swiftly made its mark in Britain, and is now in France (Note I am resisting using Jelly puns here… it’s not easy!)

Some photos from Big Jelly - taken by Richard Stonehouse of Stonehouse Photographic:

There are many Jelly Groups across the UK - I was amazed at the number of people who converged on Shropshire for the first UK Jelly. It was organised by a tremendous trio of ladies: @Janminihane, @JudyHeminsley & @FayEaston. People came from Scotland, Wales, Somerset, Chester… I met some great people all intent on growing their business, but who welcomed opportunities to work with others. My overall impression, from the speakers and those of us in the audience, was the overwhelming amount of talent, energy and sheer passion for what they were doing. As one of the speakers said, the Entrepreneurial Revolution is here. The UK’s recovery will stem from small business, not the conglomerates and the big banks in the corporate world (who got us into this mess in the first place). This recovery will mark the biggest shift in work patterns since the Industrial Revolution (which coincidentally started in Ironbridge, just 2 minutes up the road from where UK BigJelly was happening). You can read more about BigJelly and the movers and shakers here:

Are you interested in the Jelly concept? Getting together on an informal regular basis where you don’t have to swap business cards, but just get down to work? Venue with free wifi, and a coffee break with cake and companionship? You can set one up where you are, or you can give me a call to find out more… Let’s get Jelly wobbling across Normandy! Languedoc and Ariege are setting theirs up, and Burgundy and Limousin won’t be far behind! E-mail me on and let’s get started!

And finally, I must plug this amazing book too - based on her own, considerable experience, Judy Heminsley has written a fabulous no-nonsense, practical guide to working from home. All the things you want are covered, and some you haven’t thought of!

Hi Judy - thanks for sharing all this info from the event - it sounded such an inspiring day! Down here in the south we’re looking forward to the first Languedoc Jelly taking place in April - I hope some other SFN members will come along and experience ‘Jelly Français’! PS. (Is the Normandy group making a comeback on SFN?)