Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Enemy #1 - The Mosquito

I will never forget my first encounter with a moustique. It was in my first year in France and I remember hearing a buzzing noise near my face during the night. Thinking it was a fly, I ignored it only to wake up looking like the elephant man. I had been bitten on my eyelid and three times on my forehead. My eyelid got swollen so I coudn't open my eye fully and the whole experience was unbearable for a week. I couldn't put any cream on the eyelid bite because of its position and antihistamine tablets didn't take the edge off the itch at all.

Since that moment I have genuinely feared the buzzing noise and anytime someone says that there is a mosquito in the room, I flee. I've had the odd mosquito bite since of course but I always thought my first experience of them would be the worst....until now.

I wouldn't say Amiens, being in the North East of France, in Picardie, would suit mosquitos. Surely they would prefer to live in the warmer climate of the South?? It appears not. A few nights ago I saw one on the bedroom wall but missed it with my slipper. We went to bed, the beast still in the room and when we woke up, you guessed it, it had feasted on us. I personally would like to think I was dessert. I was bitten in my armpit and on my back whilst the mosquito had munched on Ju's back and arm for the main course. My bites have since turned into what I can only decribe as love bites or bruises and still itch like mad.

Last night the beast returned. I know this as Julien woke me up shouting 'I can hear it'. merci chéri. It might sound ridiclulous, but we put on some anti mosquito cream that Julien had when he went to the Reunion island and we thought that would do the trick. Not really my idea of 3am fun but hey. The rest of the night was spent under the duvet playing hide and seek with the beast. Stiffling hot under the blanket, I braved the cool air only to hear the evil buzzing. I honestly didn't sleep much at all. I woke up this morning to find out I had been bitten 5 more times. I think I'll be asking for my money back on the ANTImosquito cream.

So today I went to the supermarket to look at the anti mosquito products. There was a choice of sprays (might as well say on the packet 'kills them, kills you'), an anti-mosquito candle ('romance the beast') or some plug in thingies. I opted for a plug in thingie. 45 nights mosquito free (if you remeber to unplug it in the day, otherwise it's 15)

Do you have any experience of these plug ins? Do they work? Or will I be posting tomorrow that I now look like a giant dot to dot??

Sunday, 24 August 2008

What do you do in France Blog Poll


I've often wondered what other ex pat bloggers do in France for a living (or not) and so I've put a poll on my blog. Please take the time to answer it and pass on the link to other ex pats in France. Any bets on the outcome?



Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Pékin or Beijing, the plot thickens

Further to Jennie's post on the fact the French call Beijing 'Pékin' despite Beijing 2008 being written EVERYWHERE on the tele during the Olympics, I have proof that I will frankly never *get* the French.

Julien got home last night from work and on handing me these stamps, said 'tiens, des timbres de Pékin'. I looked down at the colourful images and was baffled to see that it had Beijing written in huge letters at the top AND on each of the 55 cents stamps. I had assumed that everyone in France used the word 'Pékin' but now I have proof that this is not the case, I just don't get it. I mean, you can trust la poste to give precise, up to date information on their commenerative stamps can't you ?? So what gives?

Is the word Beijing pronouced 'Pay-ca' (pékin)?? Maybe in France, yes. Or is this just another example of France, stuck in the past and holding onto 'tradition'. Answers on a postcard please but don't forget the Beijing, oops, Pékin stamp.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

BAB and Toulouse

Our apartment was in a small commune called Anglet (i thought of it as half of Angleterre) which is part of the area of Biarriz - Anglet - Bayonne or BAB as it's written everywhere! The apartment itself was great, refurbished and we were the first tenants. Great for cleanliness etc etc but not so good when the neighbour knocked on our door to tell us that our shower was leaking and so had flooded his bar. oops, it was sorted out though sharpish. Lucky man, i thought, you have a bar.

The apartment wasn't in walking distance to the beach/town so we had to get the bus as the car parks weren't free. This didn't bother me as I bus it everywhere, but Julien never catches the bus and quickly got cheesed off with buses that were late (by 3 minutes) and I can't even write what he said when two buses went past us too full to pick us up.....

There wasn't much really to see in Anglet apart from the beach which was pebbly...but the tiny smooth pebbles. not painful to walk on, but like quick sand in the water... I had an unfortunate moment when the waves took me under and I couldn't get up again so Ju had to rescue me. It was difficult to do that in a dignified manner....waves + quick sand type surface + flimsey bikini = comical situ for Ju, horifying for Emmy. Luckily Ju didn't have time to take photos, although he did mange the aftermath...merci

Biarritz was beautiful and from practically anywhere in the city you could see the sea. There were lots of coastal paths and the sandy beaches were crammed. Biarritz is famed for bringing surfing to Europe and there was definately a presence of surfers. As someone who grew up holidaying in Newquay, I was used to the waves but it was the first time Ju had seen waves - he grew up holidaying on the med ocean. hot, but no waves.

We went to a bull show or however you'd say it in English that are famed in the Basque region. They were cows actually, but cow show doesn't sound as good eh??! I've always hated bull fighting and such as I think it's cruel, but this show boasted respect and tradition and I accepted it. I was pretty terrified though - one of the men got knocked unconscient and another got trampled on, all lived to tell the tale. All's well that ends well I suppose. ;os

Bayonne had its festival when we were there (this is the reason why we couldn't find any accommodation in the region....everything booked up). La fête de Bayonne is a crazy festival where 100,000 people descend on the city dressed in red and white and they font la fête for five days. I have never witnessed anything like it. There are people absolutely everywhere, and music being played, people eating local produce of Bayonne ham and hot chocolate (??), people dancing and...

...oh, people drinking. I was quite worried about going after reading the posters beforehand (rape means 15 years in prison, the street is not a toilet, nor is the river..,) and yes, I should have been worried. By 1am, there were cadavres or corpses as Ju said, left right and centre. People being carried to the SAMU, pools of sick not uncommon, people so pissed that they bash into you because they have no idea what the are doing. So, in order words, another Friday night in any UK city then?! Yes, I have seen these types of behaviour before but never in France. The festival has got a bad name for itself but as usual it's the minority that spoils it for the majority. Moral of the story...go to the festival in the day time where we were surrounded by families and old people dancing in the street to brass bands. much nicer.

I did enjoy the holiday, but with all the bus journeys and car trips I was ready to leave after a week and I know next year will will be booking a holiday much more in advance to stop a repeat performance. I guess I'm used to staying in a holiday village where everything you need or want is at your doorstep.

The next stop on our travels was Toulouse where we saw Ju's brother who has recently become a Dad for the first time. I had a fantastic time! The baby is gorgeous and I couldn't help singing to him...he seemed to appreciate my renditions of twinkle twinkle little star even if no one else did!

A week passed really quickly with a detour to Andorra to do some shopping - crazy cheap alcohol and gorgeous scenery in the the mountains :o)

We also went to Rocamadour which was pretty and we visited the grotte de padirac which is the second biggest in Europe - a waterway 100 m down and you go on a guided boat tour of the underground rooms of stalactites and stalacmites. Really spectacular.
In the evenings we played UNO plus lots of mariokart on the Wii (does anyone else play? Send me your Wii numbers and let's play!) and all in all we had a great time.

I was very sad to leave the South and sadder to leave the sun behind - it averaged 32 oC daily, but leave it behind we must and now we're back in Amiens and Ju has gone back to work. I'm going back to the UK at the end of August - why not, but other than that, no plans, and no one to share my days with apart from Rocco the hamster and the turtles. Oh yes, Ju's turtles have come to stay as his parents have gone on holiday. I dreaded that the move would be permament considering his mum asks us continually when we're going to take them but she said (on hearing we were going to put them in a bigger aquarium) that she wouldn't take them back if they grew. So, fingers crossed that they don't because I wouldn't like to become a petmum to two 18 year old turtles.
Rocco on the other hand is my sweetheart...everytime I look at him i think how cute he is....

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Coming soon...

I'm back from our yearly summer holidays. After working in the UK for a few weeks, I came back to France and headed straight to Biarritz where we went to the Festival of Bayonne amongst other things. After a week in the Biarritz area we went to toulouse for a week to see Julien's brother and his new baby.

We got back to Amiens last night after collecting our pets from the petsitters....one hamster and two turtles.

all this, the explanations and more coming soon...

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