Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The weepy one where I announce stuff and try to get up to date

I thought this title summed it up as best as possible, although it is rambling as usual!

As my mum told me earlier... one thing at a time...

The weepy one because everything is getting on top of me. Why is it that Christmas is meant to just be the most wonderful thing in the world?! This year Mr Snow and his big snow guns have really made things difficult for a lot of people and I'm stressing about everything! I almost broke down on the way into town today, I can't take wet feet any more and slipping on the 2 inch deep ice on the pavements. I started my Christmas shopping today and of course the shops no longer have the sizes of things I need. I couldn't send my Christmas cards this year despite having them - I couldn't get to the post office and now it's too late. 2 Christmas parties were cancelled so we've not seen our friends, and let's not forget - will we actually be able to make it back to the UK on Thursday pm? The weather is even worse back home, 30 cm of snow in my parents street. I'm fed up of being cold, wet, dirty and stressed about whether or not we'll make it back for Christmas. Where's my Christmas cheer?

The one where I announce stuff - we can finally start to plan because drum roll........I signed my CDI in November!! I am thrilled about this although at the time it was a bit complicated and so I couldn't really celebrate and still haven't really. I still can't really believe it but I guess it'll take a while to sink in. My life really has changed since I started working there. I have so much more confidence it's incredible. J can't get over it. I still have my crappie moments (like today), don't we all, but on the whole my life is much happier, more settled. I've come so far in the 5 years I've lived in France and I'm proud of myself for persisting.

Getting up to date is tough. The one big thing I've noticed since working full time is how little time I have to fit everything in! (and my colleagues remind me that I don't have children!!) Honestly, working takes up so much time! I don't think teachers appreciate the fact that they can organise to go into town, do laundry, clean the house on their downtime. Before, when J go home on Friday evening, we'd leave for the weekend and return on Sunday evening but I just can't do this any more. I need at least until Saturday afternoon to fit in a bit of housework or shopping before I'm good to go! Laundry has become the biggest pain in my life and I've decided we're getting a dryer in January so I can speed up the process some what! I'm genuinely excited about this!!

I think I need to rethink my blogging because let's be frank, most of the time I rant(ed) about how hard it is to find a job and/or be accepted in France. Yes I have a job (that I love), but let's not pretend this means I have been 'accepted'! Unfortunately, all job stuff is off limits for my blog, which is a huge shame because I have some pearls to write/rant about! Maybe I'll find a way to share somehow....

Merry Christmas to everyone! I have been thinking about the others of you that I know in France - I hope that you have all managed to get to be with your loved ones for Christmas, near or far. Being with the ones you love is the most important aspect after all.

Fingers crossed I'll make it too! I guess arriving is the most important, however long it takes. That goes for anything I suppose! :o)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The 70 week

Not one for ranting (huhum) I just had to get this off my chest. I think I've already mentioned that my boyfriend works stupid hours at his work and this week is no exception. He's just rang me to say he'll be home at 10pm. He got up at 6am today and that was at a hotel, just next to his where his most recent project is happening. So, another 16 hour day. I last saw him yesterday at 6am.

This is the only thing we fight about. I moan all the time that he regularly does 12 hour days (on good days) and 16 on bad ones. He'll eat in his car as he goes to his next rdv. He always works on Friday afternoons even though he shouldn't. 35 hours my cul.

Can anyone give me coping mechanisms for stupid workaholic other halves? He says he has no choice, that the work has to be done etc etc but I worry about his health, our relationship, everything.

Tomorrow, straight from work, (ha) we're getting in the car to go to Wales for the long weekend so I can see my parents and somehow, miraculously he can be home at 7pm. how is this possible? Why can't he do this every night considering he should finish EVERY day at 6pm?! I hope he holds up on the long drive of 7 hours. At least when he's in the UK he'll be 'off duty', at least until Monday, when I'll start stressing about it all again.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

I take my chapeau off, chapeau dear fonctionnaire

I know I rant about them, and I promise this will be the last time, because frankly, I doubt this can be beaten.

I spoke about the same fonctionnaire department the other day, but this post should be framed.

I rang said department on Monday between the hours of 2 and 4 (yes, I'm well trained now) only to be told that the department was only accepting calls this week on Thursday and Friday. Whatever, I said, I emailed my secret weapon instead (in fact, I guessed her email address! ha! name@stupidgovernmentdept.gallicshrug and bingo -it worked AND she replied!)

The joy was short lived when I realised I needed to ring them again for more info and being sage again, I didn't ring yesterday (A, it was Wednesday and on their headed paper it said they weren't open on Wednesdays, and B, they already told me they were only accepting phone calls on Thursday and Friday.)

So, today, Thursday at 2.20pm (it said it on my watch so it must have been) I ring the number. Thursday: check Between 2 and 4: check.

Me: Can I speak to the X department please?
Her: Without saying a word, she rang me through......

and it rang
and it rang
and it rang......

I say out loud to my colleagues that they're not answering and how rude, it's after 2pm and then it hits me. My colleague says bluntly 'Emmy, do you really expect them to answer, no one is there, they're on strike.

I slam the phone down and scream! I was stunned. I had no words to describe my frustration and still don't.

The nerve of the person on Monday to tell me to ring back on Thursday when they knew full well no one would be there to answer. The nerve of the receptionist not to tell me not to bother as they were striking. The nerve of these people who send me letters wanting info from me but they are never available to receive said info. The nerve. The nerve. The nerve.

If you can work out when I should ring this department I would appreciate it cos I say chapeau, I give up.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Classic fonctionnaire conversation

So, I spend some of my time at my job fighting it out with fonctionnaires on the phone but i have to admit, the one I had on the phone yesterday takes the biscuit and wins the prize for being totally illogical!

Me: Hello, can I have the. X department please?
Her: ring back tomorrow, it's open between 2 and 4pm.
Me: What? Only between these times on a Thursday? That's crazy.
Her: no, it's open every day between these times. Goodbye.

She hangs up before I have time to say...

But madame, it's now only 3.35pm....

Big fat sigh. Some days, I give up.

Friday, 15 October 2010

In a blink of an eye

Wow, how did 2 months pass since I last posted? I remember one month and thinking, yea, I really have lots of things to post, and then I blinked, and it's now been two months.

Like many of you, I blame Facebook. It is the devil's work, it really is. When I feel like saying something, I've been saying it over there. Sorry poor neglected blog, I promise I won't abandon you.

I also feel a bit of a frustrated blogger because I could and want to talk about a million and one things, but they are usually work related, so alas, my funny stories are stored and only shared to the few.

I'm going to have to blog about other stuff, I know, but finding a job has been mission impossible and the root of my many, ok, almost all of my posts. Talking of which, I am still hanging on in at my cdd, gaining confidence, experience and oh, cdd contracts.

I'm going to back-blog to get up to date on the goings-on round here... I've been enjoying your blogs and it is only correct that I return the favour! For I know that being an expat is not easy. That we all need to know that we are not alone in our loony moments, crises and joy!!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Moving on in slow motion

I'm in the homeland, visiting my parents and catching up with a couple of friends.

The change in weather conditions and temperature has been brutal to say the least - I left the south of France (more on that another time, I never do things in order) in 32oC, sun and palm trees and touched down in pouring rain, 20oC to the UK. I've been informed that it's actually colder in the North of France where I live, but I'm suffering the change in temperature all the same. I've been wearing a jumper and jeans since getting back, sad times indeed for August.

I've not been 'home' for four months and in that time the house has had a makeover, including my bedroom which is now, no longer 'my' bedroom. Mum informed me that she'd boxed all of my possessions, thrown out my school desk and dressing table, removed shelving and bought a double bed to replace my single one. Frankly, with the new decoration too, it's unrecognisable.

I'm not bothered that she's done it, let's face it, it needed doing, but now I've been left with the horrible task of sorting through the boxes deciding what to do with every memory that lies within. I thought it would be easy; throw out, recycle, charity shop, take to France...but I'm realising I'm not that strong or quick thinking!

I would definitely describe myself as someone who is not a hoarder. I hate keeping things that will obviously never be reused and whenever I feel the need, I can de-clutter my wardrobe or house in France no problems at all. It seems, my bedroom in Wales is not so easy. Every item as a memory from my childhood, my adolescence, uni....my British life in general and I'm making hard work of de-cluttering.

I know I will never need, use or want any of the stuff in France, I've managed 5 years without them, but I still can't throw things out. I've got a lot of good clothing that I wore at uni when I went out that I just couldn't possibly wear in France. When did you last see a French girl wearing rara skirts and silk boob-tubes on a night out?! yea, exactly. Yet, each item has a good memory, to a time when I was carefree, more confident about myself and thinner!

I've come across old photos, old friends, old books, old clothes, old school books. All old, all in the past.

I know I need to move on, I know in fact, I already have. This has been the first time in over two years that I've spent so much time away from J and I miss him like crazy! Despite this, please accord me the baby steps I'll be taking this week towards removing traces of my old life.

This post has been brought to you by the letter q (stupid UK keyboqrd!) and the word 'ebay'

Monday, 9 August 2010

Expat Q&A

As Mil over at Lazy girl's blog has done, I thought I'd complete this short questionnaire that she found in a French women's magazine. The article was about expats in France.

My history:
5 years go, after finishing uni, I decided to come to France for a year to 'find myself'. Found my Frenchie instead. Now pasced to said frenchie, I am still finding myself.

What's the most British quality I have?
Wow, difficult question. (went away to think about this) Ok, I believe that education is a starting point for a career. In the UK, can you do any degree within reason, and then grow into a job once you've proved you have the capabilities to learn on the job. In France, education is the end of your career. Once you have a degree, or qualification, or exam, you can sit back and do the same job all your working life. But getting that darned piece of paper is nigh on impossible. Our systems are not compatible at all. Oh, and don't get me started with the differences in customer service......

Most British human quality....I'm an open person who wants to ask questions to get to know someone better. In France, (speaking from experience) you can be 'friends' with someone without even knowing what job they do, or how many brothers and sisters they have because these questions are deemed 'personal'.

What's the most French quality I have?
Maybe I've not been here long enough to decide yet. I know that here, family is very important and I love that. I'm very blessed to be part of a family that has acccepted me arms open. I am very proud of the bond I have with my French nephew. Makes a change from my own (very) dysfunctional family.

What my double identity adds to my personality?
It makes we want to visit more countries and learn about their cultures! I now know that there is more than one way to do something and neither is correct. It has highlighted how much I hate narrow-minded people. Being adaptable is my greatest strength.

What I want to pass on about my origins?
I worry about this a lot. Moving to another country really messes with the idea of 'origins' and I really do fear that as I do not have any family of my own generation in the UK that my future children will never understand their British origins. I'll meet that bridge when I come to it, but I may need therapy.

A childhood memory:
Winning the egg and spoon race at school when I was 7. I got a badge with '1st' on it and it was (still is!) the proudest sporting moment of my life.

My favourite smell from back home:
My dad painting the greenhouse, or picking garlic. My grandad making toast under the grill. What I wouldn't give to smell that again!

Friday, 6 August 2010

I heart Bratislava

Bratislava was everything that Bulgaris wasn't! It was young, busy, cosmopolitan and cultured. We spent 5 days there, staying in a private room in a clean and bright hostel.

I was not expecting the heat, and boy, was it hot! I should have guessed when I saw all the swimming pools in the gardens as we were landing at the airport but it was confirmed when I saw all the drinking fountains in the city centre! It was 35°C daily and it rained once, so hard that it provoked my gut to burst with laughter! I'd never seen such force and 15 minutes after in stopped, the ground was dry again! Incredible!

With the heat came the mosquitoes! We had to buy some spray as they were everywhere - even a restaurant one night left a bottle of insect spray on our table and we were so grateful!

We spent 5 great days exploring the city, eating and drinking very well and cheaply - evening meal 5€ per person, 1€ the beer.

We were able to indulge in geocaching - there were loads to do in Bratislava and we met another couple at one sight! Our first crossing of international geocachers. It touched me hugely when they gave us a gift of a beaded mobile phone charm that is now proudly attached to our GPS. Just one more reminder what great experiences can be had whilst geocaching!

The slovak girls are particularly worthy of a mention. I found them to be chic and well groomed. They were all oddly, uniformly, but beautifully, tanned. I'm sure they like UV sunbeds because it was perfectly even. Even with all the cobbles they wore high heels but sensibly, wore wedged heels which I suppose are easier to walk in than stilettos. And the mosquito bites...ouch is all I can say! I wonder if they are immune to the itch or not?!

I was sad to leave the city and come back to France, it really was great there and exactly what we needed after the relaxing, slow paced holiday that we had in Bulgaria.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Bulgaria all inclusive, OAPs n all

A month ago we went to Bulgaria for a week at a seaside resort at the black sea, all inclusive in a hotel with a team of holiday reps present with all day activities and excursions.

On arrival at the airport we noticed there were loads of old folk getting on the transfer buses but we didn't think much of it until we arrived at our hotel only to realise that the said old folk were going to be staying at our hotel. I was pretty gutted to be honest. We'd purposefully booked in a hotel with an 'animation team' that offered sporting activities and poolside aperitifs, so I honestly was miffed to see 100 or so old people shuffling around the lunch buffet. I'm talking walking sticks, blue rinse curls and wheelchairs. I think the animation team were perplexed too - at the welcome meeting 'so, who's here to party?!.........no reply....'yea, I thought so'.

I spent the first day trying to find a way out of there but stuck it out long enough to meet up with the only other young couple there. What a relief!

Old folk aside, the holiday was good. The beach was very clean and it was nice having the beach loungers and free drinks! Outside of the beach resort there wasn't a lot to see to be honest. We took a few day trips to see the towns and we were quickly finished. Tourism is just starting in Bulgaria and you can still see a lot of Russian influence. J thought it looked like the area had just come out if the war.

The best excursion we did was a half day in a communist army Jeep, exploring the countryside. Thrills assured when the Jeep almost tipped over in the mud on numerous occasions. That and me being thrown from my seat twice, ripping my shorts and being bruised beyond belief. It was great fun!

All in all the holiday was what we needed. We relaxed by the pool, ate loads of good food and chilled out. I would have liked more 'action' in the end, but hey, I guess it was out of our control.

We were looking forward to our next destination, Bratislava in Slovakia where we were promised by two slovaks we met in Bulgaria that it was a young city...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Testing testing

Just testing the blogwriter app for my ipod touch....

Time to deal with the elephant in the room

I know I know, I HAVE been avoiding my blog. It's been ages since I blogged and although I keep thinking 'ooh, I should blog about that' because I'm so behind, I've never got back in the saddle so to speak so it's time to stop avoiding the big fat elephant in the room that is my blog.

I'm now on official holiday. The place where I work has shut up shop for 3 weeks, so is the fashion in France meaning I'm on holiday!!

Over the next few weeks I am going to pre-post some posts so that I can get up to date.

These holidays I'm going to experience my first southern France wedding and will be then going to the homeland for a week. It sure will go quickly..... I don't really feel like I'm on holiday at the moment. OK, I've had a lie-in, PJs til midday, but it doesn't 'feel' like holidays.

Any ideas on how I can get that holiday feeling, and real quick?! It's going to go by so fast, I need to make every bit count!!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Out of Office Automated Reply

Back from holidays (2 kilos heavier) but apologises for my brain who is currently out of the office. I will let you know when it returns.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Holiday attempt number 2

I've got the afternoon off from work because I still haven't packed for our holidays. We're leaving at about 6pm (ha, in 4 hours) to go to the hotel near the airport. We'll sleep a mere 4 hours tops before getting up to go to the airport for 3am. We're going to Bulgaria for a week of all inclusive heaven.

I'm nervous and feeling a bit blank because I'm convinced we're not going. The Mexico holiday that never was in April has taught me not be get excited about holidays. I'll be excited when the aeroplane takes off, until then, nada.

I really need a break. Although I love my job, unfortunately working with certain people isn't so fun. I'm exhausted mentally and physically and will be glad of the rest. I plan on reading on the beach and tasting as many (free) cocktails as I can.

Now, where is my suitcase again.....? aghh.

See you soon!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Amber's 10

I've been tagged by Amber, so here are my answers to her 10 questions.

1. If you weren't in France, where would you be?

I'd be in the UK, probably London, 5 years into a career, earning more money than I would at the end of my working life here in France.

2. You're on a deserted island with one book. What is it?

Yes Man by Danny Wallace. British comic that changed my life. The power of yes brought me to France.
3. Oh crap, my car broke down and i'm on the side of the road hitch hiking. Would you pick me up? 

The smart broke down? I'd try to put you and the car into mine!

4. You've got the power to wipe one food off the face of the earth forever. Which do you choose? 

Liver, closely followed by baked beans.

5. What were you most afraid of as a child? 


6. Where do you think you'll be in five years? 

I'd love to be in Lille, but as long as I have a full time job and a garden, that'll do for me where I am already.

7. You can spend one day in your partner's body, able to read all his thoughts, etc. Would you do it? 

Sure, but I don't think I'd learn anything.

8. You've got a round trip ticket to anywhere in the world. Where are you headed? 

Mexico. The volcano ash cloud robbed me of my holiday of a lifetime there. I want it back.

9. What do you think about hyphenated or double last names for children? 

No problem, but triple ? (I know someone with this) no way. Poor children.... and there's no room on forms!

10. A plane crashes. It's full of people you think the world would be a better place without. Who's on it? 

Only I would know, all their remains would be charred and yucky. ;o)

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Looking youthful has its perils

I've always been told I don't look my age. Mother nature has given me childlike skin and soft features. I should feel blessed but I've recently been reminded of the flip side.

Where I work, all year round there is a steady stream of work placement students, or stagiaires. They come as part of their studies and stay usually 6-12 weeks. It seems I've been lumped in with them and I frankly don't know how to get out of their gang.

I got belittled the other day when I asked at reception for something - she dialled the telephone and said that a student, I shook my head, oh, the stagiaire... she said.....I grimaced (I was with a stagiaire at the time, so I let it pass) needed this and that....

The same day another person used a voice that can only be described as patronising when I asked for a document from a another department for my boss that apparently didn't exist. I wanted it in English as all the others were that he wanted, but she told me that it didn't exist in English and that I should listen to instructions from my boss more carefully. I was less than impressed. If she'd turned to her colleague on my departure and said 'oooh, that stagiaire is sooo cute for getting it wrong' I would not have been surprised.

It's so important to me to be taken seriously at work but looking baby faced isn't helping at all. You will all probably say 'you'll be grateful for your youthful appearance when you turn 40', yea ok, but it's really not helping the here and now. I am not a stagiaire, I've just had my contact prolonged for two more months (hooray!) and I want to make a good impression all round.

What to do? Any ideas on looking older and more credible bar starting smoking for wrinkles? All ideas welcome.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Get a roooooom!

Eugh, I've just been subjected to the worst PDA that I've seen in a long time. As I got on the bus, my ears and eyes were drawn to a young couple, sharing a single seat near where I was standing. The snogging (to use a v British word) was obscene to start with but quickly descended into a bisous-fest. As it was so ridiculous, and as there was nothing better to do, I started counting the times that I heard the smack. A frigging 42 times I heard that noise and then I only stopped counting because loads of people got on and drowned the noise out. It was interspersed with 'stop it', 'no, really, stop it, and stupid giggling.

It was gross!!

I was happy to get off the bus a mere 4 minutes after I got on it. I really should start cycling into town.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

4 day weekend gone in a flash!

My first ever 4 day weekend in France is nearly over and I feel deflated. My friend Rachie has just left and we had a great weekend together geocaching, eating and drinking! It was my first ever 4 day weekend in France thanks to the bank holiday that was on Thursday and where I work did the 'pont' ie, didn't open up on Friday.

Yes, I have found a job and no, I haven't blogged about it for 2 weeks. Forgive me?!

Actually, I'm already halfway through my contract, good things never last I guess! Even though I'm totally ok with bloggng about the lack of job and how hard it is to find a non teaching job here etc etc, I am much less ok with talking about jobs that I actually do have. Just know that I am loving it, that it has done my confidence the world of good and that it's the best job I might never have. It might be possible to get a job there but it's not sure and I don't know how long it'll be before a position becomes available.

At the moment I have a steady, full time job, colleagues and a routine. I know there are many many people wanting to get out of the work routine but I really crave this. It allows you to plan for the future, to organise your home life. All my working experiences in France have been the complete opposite and that's what killed me off.

Here's to the routine, and here's hoping that I can find a way to keep it.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Mexico.....actually.....not at all.

I've taken my time in writing this one because well, it was hard to. But now I have to replace a post on my blog that I see each time I log in telling me that I'll be in Mexico in 4 days.

We never made it.

We all know about the Ash Cloud blah blah blah. A little text message from Air France at midnight, 12 hours before our flight confirmed that we would not indeed be going as the flight was cancelled. ps, please don't bother turning up to the airport. agggh

We did the waiting at the travel agents, we talked about the possibilities, J tried to postpone his holidays, and then we gave up. We cancelled our holiday and with very limited possibilities available to us and a very VERY heavy heart, we got the ferry to the UK for our urrm, dream holiday.

We had a nice time don't get me wrong but instead of spending my birthday on a white sandy beach with unlimited cocktails at our 5* hotel, I spent it in Wales, oh hoy, it rained for the pleasure. gutted!

The nearest I got to Mexico this year was the card my mum had bought for me. She almost didn't give it to me after what happened but I'm glad she did! It at least made me laugh.

Now, back in France, we are still none the wiser to whether or not we'll get refunded. Good times indeed.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


I've now had over 30 physio sessions and my prescription only has one session left so I thought I'd measure my legs again to see the progress with my muscles. My left leg has grown in size of 2cm since I started, the calf and the thigh! I guess it could be fat but as I've actually lost weight since Christmas (the post binge comedown) I'll call the 2cm muscle! The only slight problem is that my right leg has actually got bigger by 2cm too but you can't have it all! I'm very happy to see a difference with all the work I've been doing on it!

I've just got my prescription for 6 months more of sessions so hopefully I'll see some more improvement. I feel much more stable generally and I know I can lift more weight with my left leg. I started by lifting 0.5 kg (no, that is not a typo) and now I'm up to 3kg with ease. My balance has improved too which is good.

I still haven't started stretching out my Achilles tendon as the kiné won't let me. This is definitely a tortoise of a race. I have to improve my balance and thigh strength before working on my tendon and my calf muscle so says the kiné. I really hope I can start working on building up muscle bulk on my left leg soon!!

This image shows that the tendon and calf muscle are connected. Explains why my muscle is tiny since my Achilles tendon doesn't stretch much. I can't work my calf muscle!

The summer is always a bit of a stress for me in the wardrobe department as I have to flash my uneven legs. This year I can't even get a warm up period to get used to flashing. In 4 days, my imperfections and I will be in Mexico!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010


Almost 5 years ago I moved to France and as I opened the door to my shared accommodation for the first time, I was greeted by Damian, the Spanish language assistant from Mexico. He too was spending a year in frogland and although the beginnings were a little tentative, we soon became firm friends and up to this day, we call each other petite soeur and grand hermano, we speak on msn and skype and I always send him a birthday card. :o) I cherish the bracelet he gave me the day we went our separate ways 4 years ago and I still have in my purse the pesos coins he gave me.

In fact, it is because of Damian that J and I are together. Damian knew J before I did, and he often mentioned that J had asked after me. I didn't think much about it, and we never seemed to be in the same place at the same time, but near the end of my year there, I went out with Damian and J was there...Damian was less than discrete and I felt a bit embarrassed but we got talking and well, the rest is history as they say. Damian obviously had a bit of intuition!

J and I have always said we'd love to go to Mexico and well, in less than two weeks, we will be there! We are spending one week with Damian in his town of Aguascalientes in the west of Mexico, inland, and then we fly over to Playa del Carmen near Cancun where we're staying in a Hotel all inclusive.


I have never been out of Europe and so the flight will be an experience! We fly to Mexico City and then we have to take an internal flight to where Damian lives. The day we go to Playa-del-Carmen involves two more internal flights.

I wrestle with feelings of guilt about going because I don't feel I deserve this amazing opportunity due to not working etc etc but I won't dwell on this here. There are too many positive and exciting things to write about too but I know what I'm looking forward to the most. You know the beginning sequence of Love Actually (Hugh Grant film) where you see happy reunions at airports with a powerful message about loving?! Well, it gets me in the back of the throat every time. Watch me run when I see Damian at the airport.... and then the tears of happiness that join me soon after.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

... is a line from a Jack Johnson song which describes perfectly how I feel right now.

I've been away for a while and this means that things are not great in the happiness barometer of my life. I seem to not blog when I'm down and this time is no exception unfortunately. My roller-coaster of a life in France is in the dip phase of the ride so to speak.

I made it back to Wales and as I sit and watch the daffodils (yay!) blow in the wind, I realise that I could wait forever to things to change for me in France. I've been waiting for four and half years already and I honestly don't know when and if that's going to change. Of course, what follows these feelings is a surge of inspiration as I look to find new paths, but which inevitably runs full circle, and so the cycle continues.

I had an interview for a job recently that I was so interested in but unfortunately the job opening has been removed, and the company are no longer looking for someone. Good news that I got an interview and they were interested in me, for sure, but doesn't make the final result any sweeter to swallow. There are so few job openings that I am having a hard time thinking up new directions to look into. Times are hard.

At the same time, I feel like I'm losing touch with the few friends I have. I have less and less to say to them, those who are caught up in their careers, and they have less and less to talk about with me, the job-seeker with no direction! ha! It's ok though at the moment as I'm trying to avoid the smug workers of this world who rub it in with their stories of pay rises, corporate travels and freebies. It's funny how little these people think before spouting off.

Here in Wales I am sitting, waiting for the rain to stop and wishing I could go for a walk, but those words mean so much more right now.

Monday, 1 March 2010

how to remind a daffodil that it's a vase for one

Happy Saint David's Day! Yea right, I'm probably talking to myself. Apparently it's Immigration Day in France today, so, apt that it also happens to be Wales' National Day where we remind ourselves of our roots and traditions. Today I am missing Daffodils, Welsh Cakes, Barabrith and Male Voice Choirs just a little bit more than usual. I would kill for a Welsh Cake.... So Welsh, that our neighbours, the English do not know what they are.

Picture taken from this food blog

Anyway, changing the topic ever so slightly, but bare with me, there's an election this year in the UK and it'll be my first in France so I've been swotting up on how I'm going to vote from frogland. In theory, it's totally do-able but the form I have in front of me just gave me a little smack in the face.

You see, you have to get another British person living overseas to sign my form. Here's the sticking point. I know none. I do not live in Little Britain, such is Provence or the Loire Valley. I live smack in the middle of two expat city havens - Lille and Paris and all the expats I know here (and I'm not even onto a second hand here when I count) are everything but British. Everyone I know from the blogsphere seem to be American or Canadian with the exception of one (Princesse Ecossaise, who I have never met)

What are the solutions? I send the form to my friend who lives in Brussels?! I've just used this 'get out of jail free' card for my passport application and it was enough of a kick in the preverbial couilles. Thanks for reminding me of the lack of fellow country(wo)men in these parts.

What to do? What to do?

On a day where immigrants are showing themselves in France, Wales is celebrating it's national day where daffodils will be aplenty but this little daffodil is wilting from solitude.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

We went to the Picardie coast yesterday. We found cailloux (pebbles) at Cayeux Sur Mer and just up the coast we visited the seins (breasts) in St Valéry. See bottom left picture. hehe. We thought about going to le Crotoy (pronounced crotte-roi) but decided against it! Funny to see there's a Brighton in France too!

I had a lovely day with J and I found a heart shaped pebble!

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Thursday, 11 February 2010

The joy of tiled floors.

Just as I found tiled floors cold and unhomely when I first came to France, J found the extensive carpet usage in my parents' house unhygienic and dirty.

I've just spent a good two hours moving all the furniture, sweeping, mopping the floor and waiting it to dry and the putting al the furniture back and I was thinking about the pros and cons of the French love of tiled floors. I'm used to it now but still don't think it's very homely. True, it's more hygienic than carpets - just sweeping then mopping proves that - the water is diiiiirty, but it's such a pain having to move all the furniture and then wait forever for the floor to dry when with a hoover you can just lift up chairs briefly while you hoover under them, and of course, no drying time is necessary.

When I'm at my parents' house, I love nothing more than lying on the carpet in front of the fire but that simply doesn't happen here in France. As I'm used to carpets underfoot I still find it difficult to wear slippers all the time in France and if I ever walk barefoot in front of my MIL she freaks out big time 'You'll catch a cold walking barefoot you know' she muses. This comes from a woman who practically wears snowboots in the winter in the house. Of course with carpets, no need for snowboots.

Do you have tiled floors? Love them or hate them?

Thursday, 4 February 2010

when the classroom does strange things to adult learners

I've been having weekly French lessons for the past few months at the adult education centre (thanks L for finding them for me despite you being the other side of the country) and today I realised that despite everyone in the class ranging from 20 - 35 years old, the classroom brings out the inner child in most people.

OK, we sit around, listen to the instructor, do our exercises like in a school, but when we have a question we get to call out to the instructor by her first name, and there's no hand in the air. But, I witnessed such a typical classroom situation today - people started getting competitive when answering questions on a comprehension exercise. I mean, when the instructor asked us if we needed to hear the CD again, one girl shouted out 'Well, I've answered them all' and put her pen down. Ha! Then when we were going through the correction, people started shouting out their answers, trying to be louder than the next! And funniest of all, the girl who sat next to me actually did the clenched fist thing with the simultaneous 'ouuuui' when she got a particularly difficult question correct. Come on guys, I thought we had gone through and come out of this behaviour at school?!
It's strange what the classroom brings out in people, even those who have all their wisdom teeth, a mortgage and probably children.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Shopping in your PJs in France?

When reading this BBC article that a supermarket in Wales has banned customers shopping in their PJs or barefoot, I shook my head in shame*, how could this 24 year old mum of two let herself go to that extent? Then it suddenly dawned on me that I had really changed.

I mean, when the postman passes and I hear the clanging on our postbox, I seriously consider whether to open the door or not. I am inevitably in my PJs when he comes by and I prepare the postbox key from the comfort of the house in order to make the action as swift as possible. Shock horror imaging that a neighbour might spot me in my PJs. I have changed. Leaving the house is an event in France, even to open the postbox. When leaving the house to go to the kiné, supermarket, gyneco, make up has to be on, hair kind of set and I would never ever consider leaving my jogging bottoms on to leave the house, totally out of ze question.

What has happened to me? I was once that woman in the supermarket...at uni I went to the supermarket in slippers, no problem. I once went with my friend who was wearing PJ bottoms and rabbit shaped fluffy slippers and we didn't care one bit.

France has changed me, and I didn't see it coming.

*listen to the short interview with said woman on the BBC article. wonderful Welsh accent. What angle do you think the interviewer was actually going for?!!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Miss Achilles

The story goes that Achilles was weakest at his tendon in his heel and I know how he felt! (photo) When I was 17, I had my Achilles tendon lengthened. I've had problems all my life walking etc etc and I was happy to get it done. I remember the specialist saying that if I never had it done, I would never be able to going skiing. Well, that was that, I didn't want to be held back in any way shape or form, so I had the op*. It was successful and although I could walk better, my leg was very weak after a lifetime of not being used properly. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it was never really dealt with with in the after care and as I've got older, it's become more and more of a problem for me. I have zero balance on that leg, can hardly move my toes and my leg is much less muscley than the other one making me very conscience of it.

I finally decided to ask my doctor about it here in France and I'm so pleased I did as I'm finally getting the care I never had all those years ago. I'm going to the kiné (physiotherapist) twice a week and I've had an insole made for my shoe. I've been told that the weak leg will never look like the other one but I'm so motivated in trying! I have pool exercises to do with the kiné and loads of balance exercises that are also adapted to geriatric patients recovering from hip operations apparently! ha!

The best bit is that because it's a lifelong problem, I've got permission for free kiné sessions for 5 years. I can go 2 or 3 times a week and the cost is taken care of. My Achilles tendon is complaining about this deal but I couldn't be happier! Someone has taken it upon themselves to help me and I'm giving it a good go! At the moment my tendon is 'awakening' (the kiné's word not mine) and it collapses about once a day. If you've even had Achilles tendon problems you'll be wincing right now. If you haven't, let's just say my leg gives way and I find myself on the floor. Not pretty in a supermarket! The pain goes instantly afterwards and I can pick myself up and carry on like northing's happened making me look like a loon! I hope it doesn't last and that my leg gets stronger quickly!

I have a lot of work ahead of me, probably years but I've never been more motivated about it. I have to work on lengthening my muscles and my tendon, and then creating muscle bulk over my whole leg. I thought my dodgy leg was a done deal. Being thrown a possibility to change things is probably the best possibility I'll ever get!

(*as a side note, I went skiing last year for the first time and couldn't snow plough - I didn't have the muscle to move my leg in the appropriate direction...kinda vital knowing how to stop right? much to the pain of my friend who had to ski me down the mountain; I held onto his waist and he skied for the both of us - what goes up, must come down eh?! I won't be trying it again for a while!!)

Saturday, 9 January 2010

You know you're a grown up when (during the sales) ....

... you rush to the bedding section of the department store and are delighted that it's buy one get one free on sheets and pillow cases, and hence buy in bulk.

... and also when the feeling of sleeping in a bed in new sheets and new pyjamas cannot be beaten.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

New Year honesties

Christmas and New Year has been and gone. I've not posted, but I've enjoyed following your blogs, to see how you see Christmas and what the New Year means to you.

I finished my job just before Christmas and I have mixed feelings about it. My contract was up and my boss did offer me a new one but I turned it down. He had too many flaws that made it impossible for me to stay. He has now had 5 different employees in 4 months, and he really should take note of that. It was never going to be a permanent thing and I'm glad of the experience. It's given me confidence, which was so badly needed, and I'm going to use this in order to move forward this year.

We spent New Year in Wales and as usual, stayed in. I was so happy to go home, and I really relaxed and slept a lot.

Coming back to France wasn't too difficult, as difficult goes. You know, however much you love and adore your parents, it's nice to go back to do things your way.

So, do I have any New Years resolutions? Not really. I can't be bothered. It's not that I'm lazy, or that I won't keep them, it's just that I've come to realise that I always get let down by them. I had a really miserable first six months of 2009 and I suppose I'm in a better place than 12 months ago, but by no means have I arrived. I still have a lot of work to do, mainly dealing with the arch nemesis that is finding a J.O.B. Optimism and hope? Move over to let realism and honesties pass please.

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