Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Weirdest Day


I know I don’t normally write about specific days, especially ones during the week as I tend to just be in lectures or realising all the grammar I had ever learnt is much more complicated than I first though. But yesterday is going to break that.

It started off like a normal day i.e. me rushing into uni thinking I was going to be late. This would have been fine if it hadn’t have been for my grammar teacher being 40 minutes late. Normally this would be annoying but you can’t hate a woman who does fantastic ferret impressions!

We thought we were going to have to catch up the time we missed after our lecture which comes straight after the grammar class (this got me worried as I would only have 30 minutes to walk home and eat before I went to work – definitely not possible to do both). The lecture was pretty uneventful so I won’t detail Napoleon’s system of government just now….

I managed to get home at a decent time, had some food then went down to the family’s door. After ringing the doorbell for a good 15 minutes I gave up and went back up to my flat. I sent them a text to say I’d been ringing the doorbell but to no avail. It turns out that J had been invited to the theatre (SHE’S 7 AND HAS MORE EXCITING PLANS THAN ME!) and that they’d be back in the next 40 minutes.

L came up and knocked on my door when they’d got back and before the normal “Hello, how are you?” she said “Have you got the EDF thing?”. Now having no clue what she was talking about we just went down to their flat. It turns out that they wanted to put my name on the electricity which resulted in me having to go back upstairs to fetch my bank details. After half an hour on hold as well as the whole family debating what L could do to change to the self-portrait she’d drawn for her Bat Mitzvah invitations. I’m not sure which was more painful the argument about the proportions of her face or the hold music.

After my boss having an argument with the woman from EDF about how sending letters rather than emails would be damaging to the environment and isn’t it the big companies who tell us to be more environmentally friendly we finally put my name on the account.

My boss then decided that L and I could sit and have a chat in English, whilst separating the stamps for her invitations in the big sheets of stamps you can get. She’s having 200 people to her Bat Mitzvah. That’s 200 stamps. It turns out as well that I will be the cloakroom attendant for said event, which is on a boat. I hate boats. I do get a free meal though so it isn’t all bad. After doing that joyous menial task her mother decided that we should all go to the new M&S together. By this stage it’s 6 o’clock and I was meant to be at Katharine’s for 7. I’m thinking still got plenty of time how wrong I was.

We got there after some crazy driving from my boss. It was the first time I had been in a car for two months so sitting where I usually think the driver should sit and fearing for my life at the Parisian driving style was a baptism of fire to say the least.

Going food shopping with a 12 year old is not something I recommend if you want to keep what little sanity you have left. We finally met up with her mother who thought it would be a good idea to let L try and find where we had parked the car. L had now clue where it was, she was too busy texting as per usual. We’re driving the way back but then my boss stops and parks the car saying “You two walk back” so I have to drop L back at theirs and rush to Katharine’s.

The only saving grace was the lovely meal Katharine made for us. This post is now almost as long as my Candide essay and was almost as traumatic to write.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Yoga


In a vain attempt to fulfil the claim I make with my surname I have vowed to be healthier now I’m in Paris. It mostly involves eating fruit as well as biscuits and walking a bit further to the metro rather than round the corner. But last week I went to Yoga. I mostly went because a) it was free and b) all my mates were going.

After getting the metro in my trackies (a look I will try not to repeat) and subsequently a lot of weird looks I got to the place we were meeting. It turns out that the place we do it in is actually a club, which explains the bar in the corner of the room. I thought that it was just because you need a stiff drink afterwards, but apparently not!

We managed to get spaces at the back, behind the woman with the dog (more about them later). The back turned out to be quite a good place to be. I couldn’t understand what the teacher was saying anyway so it didn’t really matter if I could hear her or not! You could view as either really fortunate or massively unfortunate that the girl next to me was AMAZING. I could attempt to copy what she was doing but my distinct lack of ability meant I couldn’t in fact do so.

The one thing most people know about yoga (and I included myself in this category) is the downward facing dog position, which I must concede is especially funny when you see and actual dog licking its owner’s face as she’s doing the move!

I have to admit I do enjoy it, which is a new sensation for me regarding sport but I do get annoyed when she comes over and moves me into the right position. I understand it’s to help me but that kind of invasion of personal space really gets my goat.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to go this weekend as I’m going home (finally) for Reading Week so I’ll have to find something to replace it but knowing me I probably won’t!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Monoprix a.k.a the Queen of Supermarkets


Now, I’m starting to feel a whole lot more like a native as of last week. This revolves around my absolute favourite supermarket, Monoprix. I finally signed up for a carte de fidelit√©. I don’t even have a Tesco Clubcard! This prompted me to think about all of my favourite things about the one and only Monoprix which some people say is the equivalent to Waitrose but I beg to differ. It is so much more.  

1.       The own brand range is actually really good and well-priced. My Monoprix own brand Nesquick alike was the same price as the normal stuff for twice as much! They also put little jokes at the bottom of all the labels. Most of which I can’t actually understand and don’t really work as well when you translate them but hey it’s the thought that counts! You don’t get that in Asda!

2.       They have a bakery section which sells all of the proper French patisserie. It isn’t as good as the bakery across the road from me but I never can say no to a bit of cake every now and then.

3.       William the super-hot guy who works in the closest store to me.

4.       You get a mini-card to put on your keys when you sign up for the card which absolutely blew my mind I got so excited.

Unfortunately the biggest disappointment is that the tonic water is disgusting so I have to go to Carrefour for that because I can’t ruin a good G&T with inferior T. That would be sacrilege.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Nannying


You realise your job is quite good when you’re sitting on a really comfy sofa on a Sunday night eating Percy Pigs reading the Hobbit listening to someone play the harp. This pretty much sums up my night last night, well after having to get J to do her homework and eat her tea which took more effort than I was prepared to give!

When you meet someone new here and find out that they’re also a nanny the first question is “How old are your kids?” This might seem strange to those who don’t look after kids especially when you hear us saying “Mine are 7 and 12” or “The father of my children is lovely!” The latter often comes with very strange looks.

It’s pretty good fun when the kids want to be with you. If they’re having tantrums then it can get quite repetitive and they don’t really respect my authority. Especially L as she is only 6 years younger than me so the only time she actually wants to talk to me is when she’s complaining about not being allowed to watch television.

It was really sweet the other day. I was sat around the table with L, J and their mother and we were all painting each other’s nails. It made me feel like a real part of the family and a whole lot less lonely!

I am now very good at translating the Gruffalo into French as that is all we seem to read but that isn’t all so bad. Also watching Desperate Housewives with L was pretty funny. We said it was “English revision”. It would be good if I got paid to sit there and read story books and mess around on iMovie but I get reduced rent in return for English lessons which I suppose is pretty good, oh and however much tea/coffee I can drink as well as potential for biscuits from M&S.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Things I Miss


I’ve almost been here six weeks and as I was curled up in bed feeling sorry for myself with my cold and insects bites on my face I started thinking about the things from home that would make it better.

1.       Orange squash – the sirop d’orange you get here just isn’t the same. It had a thicker texture and I sometimes have to stir it so I don’t have a massive sugar rush when I get to the bottom of the glass. Obviously I could just be content with drinking water but that’s just plain boring!

2.       TV- this probably seems a little Neanderthal as living in one of the world’s best cities for culture surely I could find something to exercise the little grey cells but there is something quite nice about curling up on the sofa to watch the Great British Bake Off with the dog sat on my lap, which brings me to me next two items….

3.       The Sofa – lying in bed for most of the day might seem like heaven but it can get quite boring and also uncomfortable especially as I haven’t furnished my flat with cushion that are actually comfortable and aren’t just flat squares which have had their stuffing squashed out of them.

4.       The Dog – I think I would be a lot less lonely in the evenings if I had the Dog to sit with. Not that she pays me any attention at home, oh no quite the contrary most of the time she goes out of her way to ignore me especially when I try to speak to her in French…..

Obviously I miss family and friends etc but I think if I had these four things chez moi then I wouldn’t feel like such a mad woman who dances around to Ella Fitzgerald drinking Nesquick at 1 in the morning.

Monday, 7 October 2013

La Nuit Blanche


Paris had this big cultural event thing on Saturday night called La Nuit Blanche which basically meant that everyone went out and got drunk, went to art galleries in the middle of the night and could still get the Metro home.

After waiting in my flat all afternoon watching Poirot on Youtube for my boss to text me the time she wanted me to go round and give L an English lesson I gave up and decided to go and meet up with everyone and start the night’s activites….

We walked from my friends’ flat by the Louvre already a little bit inebriated down to Hotel de Ville via the random pick and mix and chicken baguette stands taking pictures of stuff as we walked along. I think it’s been the only time we could take pictures of Paris without looking like tourists. As we got to Hotel de Ville there was a huge queue by a London Bus for what looked like goody bags. A queue and a British icon in one place, how could us ex-pats refuse this taste of home? It turned out that we had to enter our email addresses and all we got was the bag but then again a canvas bag is always useful!

I managed to join in two different dance offs. The first was outside Hotel de Ville where Katharine and I joined in with loads of other people dancing to the band that was playing. The second was in Fontaine de Saint-Michel where these guys were doing street dance so Lizzie and I decided to hop in with them. Safe to say I was the worst dancer in both as per my usual standard but my dancing certainly wasn’t the weirdest part of the night…..

After picking up a broken chair from outside the Highlander, who very kindly let us in to go to the loo even though they were closed. I think they might have been a little disturbed by me knocking on the door saying “La toilette s’il vous plait!” We trundled along to this building which had some people going in. We weren’t really sure what it was but I don’t think we really cared. They security guards wouldn’t let us take the chair in but looked after it for us until we came out. It turned out that they were showing a video of a string quartet playing in helicopters flying over Paris which was surreal to say the least!

But the culture didn’t stop there as tried in vain to find a McDonalds open at 3am to no avail which was probably for the best in the long run. I obviously danced all the way home as I had been very badly singing A View to A Kill – Duran Duran in my head for most of the night.

Overall a pretty cultural night, well for me that is!

 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Freshers


Alcohol, walking from one side of Paris to the other and forgetting everyone’s names (sorry!). These three things pretty much sum up my last week, or at least what I can remember from it!

I’ll first start with the alcohol. Freshers Week saw me pull my first pint on the Bar Crawl which I must admit wasn’t half bad even if I do say so myself. The offer of work was tempting but I think nannying is more my kind of thing and the hours aren’t as late. I also prefer reading the Gruffalo to speaking to drunk people any day! In terms of alcohol the free bar was also interesting. I never liked Magners before Saturday night and I definitely don’t like it now. Incidentally after drinking a few too many of anything the 7 flights of stairs don’t seem so bad and I tend to run up them. One of the things I definitely regret in the morning.

I find walking from one side of Paris to another after a night out certainly helps to clear your head after a night on a free bar although some walks home were longer than anticipated. Never again will I think it’s a good idea to walk from Le Marais to Invalides again, all I can say is thank God for taxis.  One thing that I definitely don’t like about Paris is the creepy guys coming up to you asking where to find prostitutes. I have taken to shouting at them in quite drunken poor French much to the amusement of my friends.

I think the general consensus was that you could go up to anyone if you were drunk or sober and introduce yourself. Now it feels a little bit weird as I have forgotten most people’s names but don’t feel I can re-introduce myself. I think that’s something you can only do in Freshers week!

All in all I think Freshers was my best week yet in Paris. Even despite the velib handlebar shaped bruise on my thigh, I think this came from Bar Crawl when we tried to see how many people we could get on one as I can’t ride a bike so if it had come from another night I would be seriously worried! Now is the time for the work…..well nine hours actually in Uni with Wednesdays and Fridays off but you know what I mean.