Friday, May 29, 2009

En Angleterre

Hi, I'm back in England now. I haven't been updating my blog over the last few days for the simple reason that my laptop was at the bottom of a suitcase. But now I'm reconnected to the internet, and, even more excitingly, using a wifi connection, so I can blog from anywhere within a decent radius of my house! Yay!

So, my final days in Paris...

It seems that closing my bank account on Friday (see my last blog entry) was a bit of a premature move, as I still have a cheque that CAF has yet to bank. I told my bank this, and they've halted the closure of my account, but I'm probably going to have to write them a letter asking them not to close it after all. So, as my brother has pointed out, there's a certain irony that an example of French efficiency has turned out to be detrimental.

Friday night I went to a party where I talked almost exclusively in French. It's nice to see that living in Paris and studying the lingo for three years has had some benefits.

Sunday night was my last church service, which was tres triste. Coincidentally, Ekkardt and Rebecca were in Paris, which was amazing, since they arrived in Paris the same week I did, and was there when I left. I was called up to the front of the service to be given a parting gift (a Starbucks Paris mug). I was rather nervous, however, that I would drop the mug, and have it shatter in front of the entire congregation. The nervousness was due to a past similar experience... Tuesday evening was my last actual evening at church, where Heather made a French-themed chocolate cake with the icing coloured in red, white and blue. I was duly impressed. And we had rose (I do wish I had accents on this keyboard).

What else? Tuesday I spent most of my time lugging things around Paris. Wednesday I had a cup of tea with Nicky in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, and after my etat de lieu (more on that story later) and then had an indian near Gare du Nord with Leanne and Laura as Laura came in to Paris but was spending the night at Leanne's. About the etat de lieu, which is when the landlord checks to see what state your apartment is in, I had a bit of a crisis. 10 minutes before the landlord was to arrive, I checked to see if the various electrical appliances were working, and I blew a fuse. My money's on the microwave, but the power went out for the entire kitchen section, so I couldn't find out. Typical. Everything was working before then. But the landlord was very nice about it and said it wouldn't have been anything to do with my actions, and gave me back the full deposit. Yay! So I went to Gare du Nord with large amounts of cash in my pockets - not necessarily the brightest of ideas - but made it to Nicky's alive.

I spent the night at Nicky's, well, actually at Lucy's, but since she no longer lives there..., said goodbye to her and left for the airport in the morning. The journey to the airport was fun, lugging a great big heavy suitcase and a back pack across the RER. Plus there was this American couple who were blocking the entrance to the train with 6 suitcases/bags for TWO people, and they didn't move to let people into the carriage. How rude. My suitcase turned out to be 23.5 kg, (weight limit: 20 kg) and after a little readjustment I got it down to 21 kg and the lady checked in my suitcase anyway, which was very kind of her. And after my flight was delayed about twenty minutes I arrived in cloudy England.*

Now that I'm half-way through unpacking my stuff, I have come to a few conclusions:
  • I no longer need any teacups/tea pots or tea coasters for the rest of my life.
  • I have three drawers of underwear. I am thinking that I don't need any more of those either.
  • I have a similar amount of socks, but only of one sock of each pair. If you find three drawers of unpaired socks, you know who to call.**
  • I have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of books. British Library, eat your heart out.

Today, I've been quite productive, having done two units of my TEFL course, a bit of unpacking, and written an essay for my blog! So, on that note, I think I'll leave it there...

Speak to you soon.

* It's now lovely and sunny.
** Ghostbusters!

Quick update: I've just phoned HSBC France and my account is actually being closed. Donc, voila, interdit bancaire here I come! Yay!

Friday, May 22, 2009

French Banking efficiency

I didn't think I would ever say this, but I had a pleasant encounter with a French bank today. I went there to close my bank account and within 15 minutes it was all done. It's incredibly scary not to have a bank account here. If I knew it'd be so efficient, I might have waited till next week, but I was anticipating that multiple visits would have been necessary. So, I no longer have a French bank account. Which, for some reason has me feeling somewhat vulnerable. (Possibly because I can't remember the PINs for my English cards and therefore am stuck without money and may well starve to death...)

This is also possibly the last time that I'll be in uni, which is equally scary. It's as if my Parisian life is dissolving before my eyes. First Lucy leaves, then my mother and brother strip my apartment bare, then I close my bank account... it's all very depressing.

So on that note, adieu.


I should be tidying my apartment, but for some unknown reason, I'm not... In fact, I'm doing everything I can not to be tidying my apartment. I even did a facebook quiz in German and didn't understand what it was about. It turns out it was a quiz on "what sexuality are you?" Despite the language barrier, I turned out to be heterosexual. It's mainly because I went for words I recognised (steak, Frauen, cool...). So, if you speak German with lots of English words, it probably means your heterosexual. Because that makes sense.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blasted Bank Holidays!

Yes, I know what you're thinking. I can see it in your eyes. "Aren't bank holidays a good thing?" you're asking yourself. Don't deny it; you know it's true. Unless of course, you, like me, are in France, and are fed up of having an entire month disrupted by bank holidays. Four bank holidays in one month! What are they thinking? Actually, I know what they're thinking. I can see it in their eyes. I'm on to you, Frenchies. You're thinking that you get one month off in August, and if you write off May too, you're conveniently left with two months floating alone in a sea of holidays, and you might as well write those months off as well. But isn't four bank holidays in one month going a bit overboard?

Well, the reason I was annoyed about it was because I wanted to go to uni, to sort out my bank account and plan my lessons for this evening. But since both uni and the banks would be closed, all three of those tasks became impossible. I decided to cancel my lessons for this evening because I had lost my voice and had nothing to teach, so there wasn't much point in me going. So my afternoon, after a nice productive morning, became somewhat less productive. I didn't even get round to having any lunch. How disappointing.

Anyway, I think I might finally do something constructive, and do a unit from my TEFL course.

Adios, mis amigos...

On a bleach high

I've just spent the last twenty minutes standing in my shower spraying inordinate amounts of bleach in every direction. I know it says on bleach bottles not to use in a confined space, and I know it's not best to spray cleaning products near your face when you can hardly breathe anyway because of a cold. I nearly fainted. That's a lie. I did.* If, therefore, you find this blog to be somewhat incoherent, you know where to look (yes Cillit Bang, I'm on to you...).

I've had quite a productive morning; I did some clothes washing, did the washing up, went shopping, cleaned the shower and ate a bar of Milka Daim. Mmmm... This, I feel, has made up for my highly unproductive yesterday, where I achieved to do absolutely nothing.

Having just logged onto facebook, I have noticed a surprising number of statuses (and no, the plural of status is not stati), i.e. three out of the last four, have a particular theme to them:

Person 1 is getting (legally) married in 3 months today!

Person 2 is getting married next week!!

Person 3 is counting down!!!! 9 more days to go:) Ooh la la!!!

Try and guess what Person 3 is counting down towards... Doesn't the excessive use of exclamation marks make you sick?

Lisa: Dad, do you know what Schadenfreude is?
Homer: No, I don't know what "shaden-frawde" is. Please tell me, because I'm dying to know.
Lisa: It's a German term for "shameful joy", taking pleasure in the suffering of others.
Homer: Oh, come on Lisa. I'm just glad to see him fall flat on his butt! He's usually all happy and comfortable, and surrounded by loved ones, and it makes me feel... What's the opposite of that shameful joy thing of yours?
Lisa: Sour grapes.
Homer: Boy, those Germans have a word for everything!

In other news, I have a bone to pick with my brother. Just two words will suffice to explain why: yellow mini. In the game of Yellow Mini, you hit people on the arm everytime you see either a yellow vehicle or a mini, and if you see a yellow mini, you hit them twice. Throughout Thomas being in Paris, I was being repeatedly beaten under the auspices of the regular appearance of yellow vehicles and/or minis. Being more mature than him (or so I told myself) I avoided taking part most of the time, but now he's left, I'm constantly seeing yellow vehicles and wanting to hit someone. I'm probably going to get arrested for assault before the week is out.

Anyway, I'm going to have some lunch. Tschuss!

*I didn't really pass out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The end is nigh

Lucy has left Paris for the last time. My mum and brother have been and gone, and have stripped my apartment bare. I'm now living in a half-empty apartment and on what feels like borrowed time before my Parisian days are over. On the plus side, Lucy has started a blog, and has the internet chez elle. So contact will now be easy-peasy!

I really enjoyed having Thomas and my mum here, despite coming down with a cold/man flu/swine flu. I think I wore myself out, and it finally caught up with me yesterday. On Sunday, we walked a bit around canal St Martin, and then went to church. On Monday, we went to Galeries Lafayette, then had tea around the Grand Mosquee de Paris. After strolling around the very quaint quartier of Mouffetard, which I'd never really been around before (even after three years there are areas of Paris I haven't properly explored) and a little visit to the Jardin des Plantes we went inside the mosque. In the evening we went and had a huge kir on Place du Tertre (you can read Thomas's account here) and then had dinner in a restaurant by the Bassin de Villette. Yesterday I was a bit miserable, but we went to la Sainte Chapelle, and then to Tuileries. We were attempting to go to the Orangerie, but I, being stupid, forgot it was closed on Tuesday (or more accurately, I forgot it was Tuesday). We then went to Trocadero, then had dinner chez moi, which Thomas cooked and was absolutely delicious, and then had a stroll through the Marais. This morning I got up at six to help take suitcases with mother and brother to Gare du Nord, and then went back to bed. I got out of bed at 11h30.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Guest Blogger: Lucy

Today, I have a guest blogger, my amazing friend Lucy, who wanted to share with you our experience last night. See, without further ado, I shall hand this blog over to the capable Lucy.

A night of superficiality

My pet hate has always been being crammed into a small space with too many people, finding it difficult to breathe and not being able to hear yourself think. Well, I’m proud to announce that (since last night) I am now able to give this scenario a well (and almost too well) deserved name: ‘The Mix’. Yes - clubbing.

I never thought for one moment that I would ever come to like this activity and I have to say I was absolutely right. Bloody awful it was. I’m glad I know myself well enough to have realised that in advance, shame it doesn’t work for future life plans.

Actually to be fair I must congratulate Stephen, Natasha and Nicky for putting up with my classic ‘English moan’ at the beginning, they really are long suffering friends putting up with my constant complaints on modern day society.
I’m not going to bore you with little details that would force me to relive the occasion as I’m sure you can picture the scene, but here are just a few memory joggers : Crazy strobe, flashing lights, lots of overheating, sweaty, horny people giving each other lip massages, no room to move thanks to said oversexed bunch who find it difficult to keep their hands off of other peoples bottoms whilst sucking their partners lips, toungues, ears etc.

Apart from that I had a really enjoyable night out, when looking at the floor and trying desperately to block out unwanted images whilst avoiding ‘pick up glares’.

I’m a miserable sod aren’t I ? I’m honestly quite a positive, happy person to be around, just not when clubbing, even then, after I’d managed to block out the worst bits, I danced for 3 hours… and almost managed a smile… just ask Stephen.

Lucy’s clubbing rules :
1. Don’t go
2. Failing this, take Stephen (who often refuses thereby offering the perfect excuse)
3. If he accepts stay next to Stephen all night and try to pretend you can have a conversation
4. Dance crazily to warn off scary, horny men
5. Failing this wrap arms round Stephen and deaftly switch places with him
6. This always works as said men all found Stephen strangely alluring
7. Failing this go with the flow and drink copious amounts of alcohol, or slip the odd pill; this will turn the whole sweaty event into some kind of forgettable trance which will need to be repeated… watch your bank balance plummet

PS- I totally understand Stephen if you don’t publish this.

And back over to me...

In reference to number 6: yes, several gay men did make advances. Some were more physical than others (I won't give any details). It was quite disconcerting when I saw a guy looking over at our group, and thinking that he was eyeing up Nicky, Natasha or Lucy, (because that's perfectly fine!) and then to see him later being intimate with another guy and realising it was me he was looking at. Oh well.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ou sont les neiges?

So... my weekend. Friday I went to the end of year ball. It was really good, and I enjoyed myself muchly. The boat that the ball was on was really cool; it was huge for a start, and there was a bar, a dance floor, a terrace and a swimming pool (which I had no intention whatsoever of getting into). I spent most of the evening with Lucy and Natasha, the latter of which got somewhat drunk and began going on about getting kidnapped by FARC (her future ambition) and wanting to be able to fly. Sometimes it's interesting being the only sober person there... The music, the food and the drinks were also really good, particularly since it was an open bar. And here's a photo of me looking nice and smug with Natasha and Lucy.

I got to bed at quarter to seven in the morning, so yesterday I didn't do much except I went back to Lucy and Nicky's in the evening where I stayed for dinner. I think I was in a bit of a bad mood though, so to anyone reading, sorry!

Today was quite busy and cool. I helped with Sunday school in the morning which was fun since the person who was running it did lots of activities. Then I bought some lunch with the others doing sunday group, then met up with Natasha, Nicky and Lucy and we went to the Musee de l'Orangerie. It is possibly my favourite museum in Paris, although the sewer museum takes a bit of beating. There's currently a temporary exhibition on Didier Paquignon, a contemporary French artist, whose works are very impressive. I had a snooze and then went to church in the evening. On the way to the metro with two other people from church, a lady asked me to carry her bag down the stairs. She then gave us a speech in broken French (she seemed to be slavic, but which particular language I don't know) about the importance of the message of the Virgin Mary. Fun. And I think I've just been bitten by a mosquito on the back of the hand. Yay!

Friday, May 08, 2009

End of uni

I have now finished uni. I had my last final yesterday, so by 5 o'clock, I was no longer a student. I think my exams went well, but I don't know what result that'll give me; I'll just have to wait and see. Because of exams, everything else in my life has become somewhat chaotic. I haven't properly washed up in about a week (eek!) and have been eating large amounts of junk food, including pizza, a kebab and a Big Mac meal followed by a McFlurry. Last night, after my last exam, we had some drinks at university, and then went to a restaurant for a meal, which was very nice food, although I don't think I made the best choice. It was really nice, but the size of the meal was only large, compared to the gargantuan steaks and other courses people had.

Despite my exams, I have found time to play on as my brother suggested in his blog. Although don't worry, it doesn't take up too much of my time!

In other news
I'm looking forward to my mother and my brother coming to stay, but I can't actually remember the dates that they're coming, which doesn't help too much.

The British film "Easy Virtue" (which was released last year in the UK) is currently being advertised in France. One poster exclaims that it's "un film so British!" Who says "so British"? The French do, apparently. Actually, I already knew that, and they also think that British say, "my tailor is rich". And that we call shampoo shampooing.

Anyway, I need to do some ironing for the end of year (and uni) ball. A plus!