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!!

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