Sunday, 11 January 2015

Liberté Egalité Fraternité ... Solidarité. Vive la France.

Where does one start.  I suddenly felt the need to write about something that happened recently in my beautiful city and then I remembered something... well it just so happens I already have a blog i created sometime ago so i could write about life here in my beautiful city!

Problem is the very thing I started this blog up to write about (life), started to get in the way of writing it and I never really updated it after that.  I was dry for topics, or spoiled, however you want to look at it.  

Then last week things happened in my beautiful city that shook the world, literally.  I'm not big on politics, to be honest I don't really care.  No really, they're all liars anyway.  As for Religion, well, I have a Christian mother, an atheist dad, my nan was a spiritualist and my grandad used to delight in telling Jehovah's witnesses that he was a Muslim to get them off his doorstep, so I tend to live life as a peaceful agnostic who pops into church only during the festive season or to occasionally volunteer when they do such events as give meals to the homeless.  Other than that I have no opinion or particular passion on these things, I'm a live and let live girl about most things in life as long as it is not bothering me in any way.

This week however it did.  My beautiful city was attacked, my Paris, my beautiful Paris, they hurt her, they hurt her people and a great cloud of confusion and sadness hung over us all like the band of pollution that swept across Europe last year.  The atmosphere was tangible and too awful for words.

So when I learned that Sunday there was going to be a big march in protest then there was no question as to whether or not I'd be there.  How dare they.

I was disappointed in the run up to hear the people attacking the world leaders and politicians for their plans of attendance.  Lets face it there's already a divide between terrorists and the rest of the sane world, are we really going to start adding our own petty political divides in here also? So will you stop.  Lets face it people in a political position cannot win, whatever you do someone will always have an opinion (and let's face it the march was for the right for us to have this opinion without having to fear losing our life over it).  But for me I say respect to those leaders.  They made themselves sitting targets that day and that was BRAVE however you want to look at it, whatever you may think of them these men and women have partners and families who see them as human beings when the rest of the world doesn't and did so long before we saw them as political figures, they are people too and I'm certain they didn't want to die that day anymore than anyone else there did, but they made themselves vulnerable.  They showed no fear.  So bravo to them.  It's as simple as that.

Second, the people who would refer to anyone joining in this movement as sheep (yes you people with your "Je ne suis pas Charlie, Je suis moi") yes sure, let's make this all about you shall we?  Okay maybe many were jumping on a wagon, even me, this isn't exactly a new problem, you're right, but ignorance is bliss until it happens on your doorstep.  Better late than never.   After all, one little sheep on its own isn't going to do much damage to the land and there's nothing threatening about a little lonesome sheep.  But a whole flock of sheep? Man that can be terrifying and they are going to level your nice green field to bare earth pretty damned fast.  So Baaaaaa Ram to Ewe, I'm joining the flock.  Safety in numbers.

I grew up in a major epicenter for the IRA back when they were the big problem, I was in London for the weekend a mere 2 days after the tube bombings, I still remember the smell of a charred Kings Cross station, the empty tube carriages because people were too fearful to ride, the nervous glances towards anyone who was carrying a rucksack.  I also lived in Central London during the riots so have already experienced being locked in Starbucks at Green Park until it was safe to exit (but not before they'd smashed in the door) and 6pm curfews in your neighbourhood with the sound of explosions and sirens singing you to disturbed sleep.  I'm no stranger to events of widespread human emotion (actually maybe I'm just jinxed?!) but this was something else entirely. 

 I never knew so much evil could lead to so much good.

It was a day of mixed emotions, but not one of those was sadness. There was pride, France know they are showing the rest of the world how its done and if there's one thing French people are, it's proud (trust me I know I'm dating one).  They were happy, this was something special, to be rejoiced and they knew it, we weren't there to fight we were there to show we were united and when you see how many people are on your side, well damn that makes you feel good.  There was also a distinct lack of fear, I saw so many warnings the day before and sure if this had been a movie then the terrorists could have had a field day here, we were all trapped in one place, it was a setup for carnage.  But we were not afraid of this, Terrorists are cowards, people are not.  Fear does not stop death it stops life.  

March on, march on....

It was madness, I can't remember the last time i saw that many people in one place, possibly never if I am honest.  But it wasn't too much, it wasn't difficult and I can honestly say I have never felt so safe.

Helpfully RATP laid on all transport free that day, so I took the initiative to leave early.  The march was due to start around 15h and I arrived in Paris at 12h, at this point there wasn't too many people around. 

 There was an air of apprehension, people were very quiet filtering off the metro at Republique, but nonetheless everyone was smiling, it was like a sunday outing almost.  The young, the old, families.... Everyone.  

People ventured into nearby packed out cafes for coffee as despite the brilliant winter sunshine there was little warmth even with the crowds and people took time to look at all the memorials which have accumulated over this past few days.  

More and more people slowly seemed to be around me so i held my place behind the statue and for a couple of hours just enjoyed the atmosphere.  Some people had climbed up onto the memorial and to be honest were doing a great job in leading chants of independence, humour, freedom and occasionally throwing in the national anthem.  Slowly the gaps filled around until it just a sea of people but it wasn't until I got home and saw the photo of the Place did I get an idea of just how many! I had no idea!!! At no point was there the sensation you were that rammed in!  Noone was pushing or shoving, sometimes you advanced a little sometimes you didn't.  Mostly people walked a few meters then we stopped, people applauded, cracked jokes, encouraged a few chants or songs but you never felt trapped so I was probably just as overwhelmed as the rest of the world to see the photos of the turnout after.  Incredible.

For me there were certain things which majorly stuck out that day;

1.  The acceptance that Muslims and Islam are not the problem.  I have a feeling it was almost national hug a muslim day, they were almost celebrity guests where i was standing.  After the terrorist attacks on Australia of recent weeks I was very touched by the story of #illridewithyou.  I had no idea that when my own country would be in the same boat some weeks later their reaction would show my heart one better than that.  There's no need for an I'll ride with you here because they have gone; we are all the same. They've not even particularly extended a 'don't worry' out to the Muslims because it has gone without saying, it is not their fault!

2.  In this country the Arabs, Africans, Moroccans and the 'Gitan' are not terribly well tolerated.  I hear it ALL the time, man are these guys tarred with a brush.  But today up on the statue chanting "Je suis Charlie, tu est Charlie, nous sommes Charlie" (I am Charlie, you are Charlie, we are Charlie) was a person representing every single one of these cultures, waving their flags from Morocco to Senegal next to the French flags and joking and laughing and encouraging everyone to sing the national anthem.  Their skin in every shade, their clothing, their flags, all different and yet being supportive TOGETHER. 

3.  Two chants will stay with me

"Vive le press"
"Merci la police"

The poignancy with the first chant is that we are a mere drive from the place of Princess Diana's death.

As for people's love of the police force here, well it's about on a par with England....normally.  Here we are celebrating them both in the same breath.  

My how the winds have changed, literally overnight, even if just for one afternoon.

Sadly I didn't see too much of our leaders (nothing at all in fact) from where I was standing,   i wound up being interviewed by ABC news desperately looking for English speakers they could interview (ahhh my 15 minutes!).  i helped teach a cameraman from the BBC the fastest way to pick your way through a crowd (basically by not being so British about it) who then thanked me as apparently it was the most ground he'd covered in an hour before we went our separate ways.  Of course naturally despite all of the thousands of people there i still managed to bump into one of my Parisien friends (ha Hey Steph, big Republican march, small world...) but still it took 2 hours to shuffle down a section of the Blvd de la Republique.  

The march was due to end at Nation, but I knew in my head getting to Place de Nation and negotiating transport with that many people would be hell at the end of it all, the march had actually started to split off down many of Paris' side streets so like many thousands of others I detoured.   I finally managed to end up around the Canal St Martin heading in the direction of my train station, it was now dark and here the party was in full swing with people celebrating in the streets, picnicking, bars and cafes were packed out into the street.  I was pretty cold (despite the sunshine a spectacular cloud burst on the crowd very early in the afternoon which prompted the new chant "France sous la pluie/France under the rain" and much laughter from the crowd) and I was thinking of getting home as I still had to be up in the morning to be a sensible teacher, when I realized this day was never going to happen again (one hopes I guess).  So I stopped and sat on a wall by the canal and observed the crowd.  It was now night but people were holding their banners, candles, lighters, chanting, singing, talking, laughing, dancing.... When an Arab guy next to me offered me a beer, he was sat with his Jewish friend complete in his attire and I thought, why not.  So I had a beer with them and we discussed what a great day it was for this country, as simple as that.  Somewhere someone broke into the national anthem and the whole street joined in to end with cheering and applause, 3 Muslim girls in traditional dress were dancing with an African man who was adorned in his.

I was not dreaming and I love that.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

La bêtise: stupidity

It's been such a long time since i wrote this!  It isn't that I have had nothing to write about, i mean who knows, my life is never dull, but then sometimes there's too much to write and I've had a lot of work on and I just lost the will and inclination. Truth is I love writing (normally) but then life kind of took over and I lost that joy, it became a chore, so I stopped. Now I miss it, so here we go again...although not entirely sure how long for but voila, there you go. 

 So what has happened to me since I last wrote this?? Well reviewing the old blog, work wise I was in France teaching sport and dance. Yep that's still all the same. Still running around with the children like a lunatic all week, why only yesterday I had been a mouse, cat, dog, horse, elephant, giraffe, hippo (steady) crocodile, frog, lizard and snake and ALL before lunchtime. Somehow we are now into our third year and whilst our best friend and adored colleague Larke just left us, my rock and best friend otherwise known as the wife is still passing the seasons in silliness with me, but she is now my boss...

Ah to add now I work weekends at Disney also. Okay the job isn't the most fabulous but the Team are rather wonderful and that is everything. I also teach privately which is oh so rewarding and i'll explain more why I work a stupid amount of hours later. I do have good reason. Other than supporting myself.  

What else asides work? Ah yes romance! My love life, i was back with the ex!  We went on to get engaged and he moved out here for me and everything.  It was great and all, very romantic, aaaaaah l'amour in the city of love and we lived happily ever after... yes indeed, just not with each other.   The condition that went with me taking him back and giving him his umpteenth chance was that he would no longer 'faire des bêtises' (i.e be a dumbass) as if he continued then this time I wouldn't be waiting around. I wasn't joking.  The second I got even a hint of the old familiar 'imbêtise' from him I was as good as my word and I walked.  Ladies life is too short to be unhappy.

Cue Aretha "R-E-S-P-E-C-T sockittomesockittomesockittomesockittome......" 

 So this is Bridget Jones for Sit Up Britain. Not even.

 For a while I was crazy cat lady, in January I found myself with a beautiful European shorthair kitten who I adored and named her 'Nala' which besides the Disney reference means 'beloved'.  It was just me and my Nala puss against the world (please notice tragic use of past tense here) she was my best friend, my baby girl, my roomie, my guardian angel and the love of my life in one beautiful, purry little package of perfection. There were no words for how happy she made me and how much I loved this little girl. But the best things are never meant to last and clearly my poor angel had a genetic time bomb ticking away inside her. After some seizures that were too great for her little body to handle I chose to have her put to sleep before she was robbed further of dignity. She was one week past her first birthday, It's been a few weeks since I kissed her goodnight for the last time and I'm still struggling to cope with losing her. Sometimes the little moments when she pops into my head floor me. First thing in the morning usually, you wake up and for one second everything is normal, then you remember and It is like someone suddenly pulls all the air out from your lungs, you hurt so much that for a second you can't breathe. I am literally suffocated by how much I miss her sometimes, but how lucky I was to have known her and the most important thing for a girl is to know how to be happy even when she is sad. So we continue. It's life. 

 Miss you my girl x


To be honest my jobs don't feel like work. Every day i get to school and by lunchtime i've received more hugs than i can possibly count and been told I'm beautiful several times over, who am i to argue even when i feel shocking, for as they say in France "la vérité sort de la bouche des enfants" yup kids speak the truth ;) When I get to the homes of my private clients I am plied with coffee and cake and get to play with their animals. Win win.


Sometimes I am on my knees exhausted: No seriously this is how the kids leave us sometimes:


But then other times just when you think you are useless and you aren't getting through to them ... i mean let's be clear sometimes children aren't the brightest BUT as Einstein said


Fault as with anything in life can very often be found within. 

 I had a student who was particularly struggling last week and not seeming to take anything on board, I was trying to teach her the basic questions like "How, Who, What, Where....?" and she struggled massively with 'Which'.  I tried every angle I could to drum it into her, finding things that matched like two almost identical blue pens and asking her to pass me the blue pen...she passed me a blue pen without question. I kept trying to explain to her "but without question how do you know WHICH blue pen I want??? they are both the same!!!" She just wasn't getting the reference it just wasn't going in! I went home wondering how on earth I was going to win this one. 

 So today I gave her the opportunity to ask me any question she liked. She did the usual 
"How are you?" and managed "where are you from?" Then before I left she picked up 2 identical green pencils and said:

 "Which one would you like...?" 

 When I left their house I got into my car and I cried. 

So all 'work' no play makes Karen a dull girl, hmmmm what else? Ah hobbies, social life definitely got me one of those, check! Expats make the most amazing friends, you are all like minded crazy enough to be well out of your comfort zone (you have moved to a foreign country after all and left everythng familiar behind) and obviously you have no family here, so, you make your own!


I got back to horse riding,


I blade often through Paris on a Friday night with the PariRoller group

I am still running and working out, I have travelled a bit (managed Amsterdam, Ibiza and the mountains and the South of France this year!) and also joined Circus School. These are currently on hold thanks to winter schedule and work but it keeps me out of (or in to) new mischief. If teaching goes wrong I can always run away with the circus?
So right now it's nearly Christmas out here (ha like it is in every other Country in the world also). It is approaching my third Christmas since I moved here but this Noel I'm going to go home and visit the folks thanks to the stupid 'Christmas in a day' advert on youtube

  and the Josh Groban song 'Believe' also to blame (seriously my music taste goes from "you gotta hear this!" To "please don't judge me but..."). One minute I can be driving along with a bit of country, or dubstep, or pop, rap whatever....then 'what does the fox say' or 'the hokey cokey' interrupts or Worse Justin Bieber!!! (I got this for dance with the kids in my defence and he's haunted me ever since). My iPod collection is embarrassing but I teach kids ok??!! (Except for that fox song, personally I love it, there i said it). Anyway, Listening to that Josh Grobin song made me want to wake up on Christmas morning and be spoiled by my parents like I was 9 years old. So I booked a ticket home. My dads response...? Oh if we'd have known you were going to come for christmas we needn't have booked to come out to Disney for New Years Eve to see you. Brilliant. Thanks dad, but we all know the only reason you guys come to Disney, is to go to Disneyland. It's just lucky for you the excuse is that I work out here. Don't believe me? I have lived here over two years, they have been here this will be their 4th time now and they STILL haven't even seen where I live or work even though its like 5 minutes away from Disneyland itself. 

 Bah humbug parents. Love you really ;-) The real reason they come to visit...


Christmas out here is wonderful though, I've already been emotional at the start of the Disney Christmas season with my girls,


Have most presents already purchased and they have some fab traditions out here which if I keep this blog up this time I can write about! But the people out here are wonderful and warm and friendly and you couldn't ask for more. I remember my first christams day out here I had the most amazing meal with my adopted family en France as I call them. Well it would have been even better were it not for the fact I was still new to them and didn't realise their 'join us for a spot of Christmas Day lunch' meant 5 courses round the table with wine, champagne and the whole family will be dressed to impress. What was the problem here? Well not expecting such a formal occasion I had wound up partying to the small hours of the morning with who was to become my future housemate in what is now my home (yes earlier this year I moved into a beautiful cottage in the same village!) if anyone ever offers you a polish brand of vodka with a blade of grass in it and a picture of a buffalo on the front, trust me, do NOT touch it. This stuff floors cowboys, real ones and these guys can drink. So I digress.... I was barely alive and embarrassingly and totally self inflictedly (I just totally invented a word there) malade. 

Sick. As. A. Dog. 

 Honestly it was like the Vicar of Dibley Christmas episode where she has ALL the dinners because I did have two Christmas meals that day. On a hangover. It makes a great story because no story ever started with "so I had this salad..." In fact I wish I could say "So I had this salad" because in fact in life those who know me know 
1. I hate seafood 
2. I don't eat liver Yuck. 

 Well the starter was scallops in Foie Gras sauce. Yes I can hear you all urging for me. So as not to seem rude I washed it down with a lot of baguette and champagne. Oh la classe. 

 So what else has this country taught me other than they eat really weird food sometimes and not to touch polish vodka! Ah obviously the language! Ah French, the language of luuurve. My Franglais is awesome, my Frenglish is good for when my language is broken, I has the dumbs and I have no idea how to get my point across and am communicating ANY way I can (I did a great impression of a cow and a chicken complete with arm actions to mime horns and flapping of arms to demonstrate wings all complete with sound effects to translate beef and chicken to a Spanish family once. Sadly there were witnesses, not my finest hour). My French is however abysmal. Somedays it's not, somedays it is very good and people are now catching on I understand most of what's being said around me and somedays I pretend its better than it is to shut people up and somedays I think I don't speak it then go and deal with something in a level that is almost fluency. Again I think it depends on whether or not I have the dumbs or have had sleep. Also greatly altered by alcohol consumption. Lets face it though after the second glass of wine you could probably convince yourself to attempt Hebrew. Alcohol is useful sometimes 

 The biggest lesson has been the French you are taught in the UK is useless however. Let's review, common phrases We know and love from school days: 

 1. I would like a kilo of tomatoes 
2. I'd like a blue skirt please 
3. Do you have something cheaper? 
4. Where is the library? 
5. I have a headache. 
6. What time is it? 
7. How are you? 
8. What time is the next train to Paris? 
9. A glass of red wine please (ok this is actually useful...) 

 I mean do you ask for a kilo of anything in England??? NO they have machines that do that for you now! And as for 'do you have this skirt in blue?' Can you imagine walking into H&M and saying that???!!! What shop is this? Do they think France is full of those family owned knit shop outlets? It's some technologically backward country?? (Okay to be fair the villages are full of greengrocers, fishmongers and bakeries like war time England was, but still). I mean seriously, go to ASOS and use google translate. If you ask for something cheaper in Paris they'll probably chase you out the shop with a broom for lacking class. Or throw one of the pretty shrubs that adorn the shop front at you (My friend genuinely witnessed a waitress launching her tips at an American family as they left the restaurant because they left her just a random pile of loose change...) 

 Anyway, french that i ACTUALLY needed this year... 

 1. My cat has had a fit and I have an appointment with the neurologist for her brain scan 
2. I was riding my horse when we had an incident with a tree and I thnk I need an X ray because it feels like I've smashed my eye socket. 
3. I want third party, fire and theft only car insurance with breakdown cover please 
4. I believe there is a problem with my starter motor. 
5. Seriously, where are the eggs and do you not have castor sugar here? 
6. The boiler is broken 
7. I have moved house already when are you going to connect my phone line?! 
8. No really what time is the next train to Paris I've been waiting for like an hour now... 
9. Sure I'll go for a drink with you but if you think that means I'm going to sleep with you, you can forget it. 

 This last one ladies is very important.  Obviously having been on my own for a large portion of my time out here I'm fair game for red blooded International males.  Or so they like to think.  As it is European guys think English and American girls are easy, because usually they tend to come here as students or just seasonal, and... oh yeah let's have a fling with a sexy French guy.  Sure French guys are super charming let it be said (ever heard of an American kiss? or an English kiss? No... I have a point...). So I've spent all summer trying to change the opinion and demonstrate we are not (maybe I speak for myself here?!) but these guys will try anything.  They are really intense too.  By date 2 they'll be discussing your future.  No really.  By about date 5 you could be exchanging contracts, by date 5 they've probably changed you for someone else, or are married. They work fast.  This scares me to death and probably why I'm still kicking round refusing to take anyone seriously.

The best line I heard recently in French was 

 "Karen I have a problem, see it's now winter and It's cold and when I wake up in the morning it would be really nice to have someone there to keep me warm..." 

 I think they heard me laughing back in the UK. He's going to have to do better than that.

 Until next time, stay positive people. Everything is possible x


Friday, 9 December 2011

C'est horrible! It's horrible!


I have not forgotten you all so I'm back. I know I know and about time too after all it's been a month! Hand slapped officially...

So i will start by being English/British (this argument bores me so theres both for you, either way I'm still from the Midlands which is in England/Great Britain/the UK) and here goes with my being terribly British with my first topic:

Weather here... C'est horrible.

Hail in Paris this week

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Now whilst my franglais is exceptional ("no gliséeing on the genous children" or "tu est walk comme ça?" being two of my finer moments) c'est horrible is in fact French and not franglais and means exactly what it sounds like. En Français 'horrible' is the same word as the English 'horrible' only without the 'h'.

To say horrible in French you merely remove the 'h' and instead add it to an English word such as 'apple' (so you get 'happle' something the French do all the time e.g 'this apple is hard' would become 'theeees happle eeees ard')

Anyway i digress (when don't i) so to pronounce 'horrible' in French, you remove the 'h' stick it somewhere abstract, the 'o' bit is the same, then the 'rib' part you have to sound like you are saying 'reeeb'. and then say 'le' quietly at the end. So it's barely audible. In fact scrap the 'le' altogether the French rarely pronounce the last letter of any word anyway. So what you get phonetically from c'est horrible is 'say o-reeeeeee-b-(le)' remember sssssssh at the end.

I LOVE phonetics, try saying 'beer can' without sounding like your ripping into someone with a Jamaican accent saying 'bacon' (bet you're trying it right now aren't you...?! You just can't do it!!!)

However I'm picking up what Michelle calls a 'pavement special' accent. I'm getting super confused living with a saffer, the day I start asking for 'mulk' in my coffee or saying I had 'fush' for tea. I'm going to enroll in elocution lessons. Probably should have done that years ago anyway it's not til you live abroad and people are focussing on what you say as a language for communication rather than just understanding your idle gossip does your accent officially come under the spotlight, because to someone learning English, HOW you say it makes all the difference.

Mind you, back to 'horrible' I can't rip into the French too much because that pronunciation is opposed to the English version of the word and we may also drop the 'h' and make the end 'ul' as in it's 'ori-bull'.

I love the French language, even asking 'where the bin is' sounds like some seductive invitation to dinner.

But then they say Paris is the city of love and who am I to argue with that. It's the whole reason I have been so slack with my blog of late as all my spare time (the time left when I'm not teaching, marking, report writing or lesson planning) is currently taken up by hours of Skype time with 'the bloke'.

So I apologise, even he started complaining saying I needed to get on and write a new blog (I told him this would involve sacrificing some of his talk time, which in the event I'm not as right now he's on a coach on his way here so I am free to type away as he's probably sleeping)

I also had writers block and when I mentioned I was writing reports I wasn't kidding. 100+ children in the school and I had to write reports and grade every single one of them giving them marks for various points raised per class I teach plus write individual notes on each child and how they're doing. Add to this marking recently carried out test papers, lesson planning and preparing their devoir (homework) for the Christmas holidays (they love homework out here the more you give the children the better apparently!) doesn't leave much time for anything else. Least of all at this most busiest time of year and this year it's a bit different for me too.

I have been busy preparing for my first Christmas in Paris and I can honestly say I haven't felt this christmassy in years. Mum always told me that if you work in a school you get a way more exciting build up to Christmas and I'm inclined to agree! Christmas is very much for children and I understand that with the right spirit even without them you can go on to have a merry Christmas indeed, I myself have had plenty over the years! but I'm pretty sure for the adults that do have them... Nothing can beat the excitement of letting them build up and share a little magic for a few weeks. If you do have kids and you don't do this. Shame on you I say. Or maybe more fool you. What's life without a little fun.

Have only heard rumour of a couple of children questioning santa. With adults then asking how they should respond. I mean like you even have to ask that question because Santa totally exists!!! Silly people.

Of course political correctness also prevails at this time of year and during one Christmas card making session when the children were sorting through glittery snowflakes and stars for decorative purposes one child came across an ANGEL!!! GOD FORBID!!! well actually no god wouldn't forbid but maybe Allah or Shivah or Jehovah or someone else might... Like the parents. Sigh. I carefully slid it off his table whilst he wasn't looking so no trace of religion escaped the school Walls!

But then unless you are at a specific religious school this is true of all schools, they just can't risk it. What a mad world we live in.

So we have tip toed our way round all religious intonations and even made a festive Christmas show 'Le Spectacle de Noel' without having the 'christ' in mas. The children are singing songs in French and then in English. It's hilarious. Upon hearing the running order I told Chris giving the french children 'Rudolph the red nosed reindeer' to learn was just plain cruel. Also slightly funny. I may take an umbrella if im sat on the front row.

I'm allowed to say this because my French friends at the school loved to make me say 'ronronner! To hear me struggling with the hacking and gagging 'rrrrrrrr' sound they make so well. For them its a purr, to me I sounded like I was being garrotted so in some small way this is my revenge. My other revenge was learning how to say it, really well.

However to get round some of the more complicated words (rudolph is pretty involved) there's a lot of babbling rather than singing going on so I think maybe based on what I heard today, their song sheets look something like this:

'RUDOLPH wewaaawawaaaaaa mmmmmmmmmm REINDEER had a shiny SHIIIIIIIIIINNNYYYY NOSE!'

I was informed by someone who heard one child practising that they were singing 'Rudolph the wa wa window...'

Watching the final rehearsal today was hilarious! You can tell which bits in the songs they all know by the decibel level.

At the very end the whole school sings "We wish you a merry Christmas" and I'd like to say that they have the same problem here that primary school teachers teaching this song have been having for as long as this song has been done. Hell I even remember the teachers pulling us up on this from my childhood way back when so altogether now:

"we WISSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHH you a merry christmas, we WISSSSSSSHHHHHHHH you ...."

Yup this song was written to be phonetically butchered by children no matter what the country or what the language. Bravo. I was meant to be stern but all I could do was giggle not helped by one of the other French teachers stood next to me who was also giggling because I had been telling her not 5 minutes before that "in England when we were little we used to do this thing on the 'wisssshhhhhh' that we always got told off for..."

good to see some thing's never change.

Mind you there was no keeping a straight face today, I even saw the usually stern headmistress spectacularly dissolve in hysterical laughter, as is the joy of working with small children there is ALWAYS something funny to write home about. However I wasn't especially laughing at my little dance groups performance of Jingle Bell Rock. So a 45 minute rehearsal, post spectacle rehearsal later, it is safe to say I have drilled that dance into their heads this evening.

Everything we set last week (like their places, you know, nothing major) just went out of the window when they got on stage.

Now there's something about theatres I know this only too well, to me they're a place of wonder, magic, where anything can (and does happen) and the children got in there for their for the first time today and you could physically watch their heads empty and their mouths fall open the second they stepped over the threshold. That's pretty much how it stayed. Awesome. All those weeks of rehearsals, here they are representing me, the new dance teacher so the parents can see what it is I've been doing with them these past few weeks and they decide to take their minds out the day before the show.

I got on the stage with my dance group who all stood their gazing round the theatre then looking at me.

All I could do was point and hiss 'la ba!' to remind them they were supposed to start from side stage.

They merely looked at me. Blankly. Very reminiscent of a scene from children of the corn.

So I took one half of my group and shooed them (for want of a better word) to the side of the stage where they were supposed to come on from, then turned my attention to the other equally vacant looking group and shooed them to the opposite side where they were supposed to enter from.

No sooner had I shooed group number two in the right direction and turned back around to continue with the next pressing issue (the music) were group number 1 tripping back across the stage towards me like I'd just buried them in pet semetary and they'd dug their way out and were heading home.

I promptly bent myself down to their level and all but clapping my hands at them literally shooed them back and as I was doing that so were group 2 returning back from their little zombie like trip to god knows where, but if we shuffle back into the centre of the stage Karen will tell us what to do. I literally chased them back into their corner too.

Honestly it looked like I was chasing chickens. It FELT like i was chasing chickens.

As I explained to one teacher in French, I used to work on a farm so "cows, sheep, chickens, children....they're the same thing" We laughed so hard I am surprised the headmistress didn't banish us. Mind you at least chickens don't ask questions and at least they do that squatting down thing so you can catch them easier.

All I can do now is cross my fingers for tomorrow.

Anyway life hasn't all been about school this last 3 weeks we had a house party, I've had lots of visits from the boyfriend (seriously it would be cheaper if he just moved here..) I've also had more flowers from the boyfriend, Matt please continue a girl can never have too. much of this ;)

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These were actually delivered to the school so the women were all a giggle especially when they found out the boyfriend had sent them 'parçe-que' (just because...) and all the kids thought it was my birthday. When I explained it wasn't and who had sent them the girls got especially girly and the boys screwed up their noses and wondered why. I told them one day when they were older and didn't find girls so annoying they'd get it and if not they'd be wise to...

Matt did actually come to the school the one Friday and stayed for my after school dance class. Of course the children were fascinated by him and as I drop the t sound from my words (Coventry accent) they all think he is called 'Max'. He sat in the corner out the way but it didn't stop the girls absolutely harassing him but they were pretty good and under strict warning he didn't encourage them too much. He was under threat of death if he did.

Anyway his visit went down well and at tonight's rehearsal all the children started to ask if Max was coming tomorrow to see the show, backed up (just in case I didn't know who Max was) with them pointing furiously at the corner where he had sat to watch.

I was pleased to tell them he will be. They are super excited but I've warned him he's not allowed to keep any of them ;)

Anyway I'm going to not prattle so much and instead I'm going to start filling my blog space with pretty pictures instead. Sometimes a picture paints a thousand words. Or something like that. Famous quote butchered. Yes I did just do that.

Well the house is still fine and lovely and the Fairy landlords have struck again and this time they have given us Christmas.

Always nice to come home to and always nice to have workload reduced by fairy landlords:

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Also of course we had our house party which went on til silly o clock and much alcohol was consumed from the first bottle of champagne to the last few drops of homemade mojito and vin chaud not to mention we were eating the food for a week!

It's not a party unless EVERYONE is in the kitchen

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Aaah yes the fire starters. What is it with men and fire?

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Just some of the food

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Bubble bubble toil amd trouble... Homemade vin chaud and mojito mix

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A French party treat known as 'pain surprise' looks like a loaf...

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Until you take the top of and reveal layers of sandwiches like a big bready jigsaw!

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(obviously no one ate the top bit so I did my bit for nature and gave it to the birds for breakfast before I left for school. When I returned from school that afternoon and found two large piles of feathers in the garden, I realised with great sadness I had inadvertently provided the local cat with breakfast that morning also...)

What else.... Oh yes have been to Disney more! (of course...)

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Whipped Matt at buzz lightyears laser blast (yup that there big score be mine!!!)

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Sooo just a few piccies because the place is horrendously photogenic

Mickeys winter wonderland show

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Main street

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The castle

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Fantillusion parade

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Matt had never been to Disney before so it was great to haul him round, silly ear wearing compulsory! However tis the season so it was extremely busy in the Park which meant we didn't get lots of rides done. However he has bought an annual pass so will be returning shortly as he's here for the whole of Christmas, I'm pretty sure at some point during our 2 weeks off we will do the rest.

Anyway. What else have I been up to? Oh yes had my first thanksgiving for which I went to my friend Shawns house! Wow the Americans do food right indeed, a massive thanksgiving spread was laid on complete with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and turkey plus we had the NFL game on the sky it was just a great night! 5 frenchies, 2 new Mexicans, 1 Oklahoman (who was also a stunt rider in the Will Smith movie Wild Wild West and splits his time between here and LA) and me! Oh and a jack russell, can't forget him! Party Time. Yes that's really his name. "Where's Party?" um I thought it was right here? "nope party's in the bedroom..." huh??? Oh you mean the DOG!!! anyway It was a great evening and a pleasure to be a part of. I'm very blessed with the people I meet throughout my life.

Of course the past few weeks haven't been complete without adventures with the Paris massive and I ventured into Paris again recently to the Stade de France as once again I had been given free tickets to the rugby so went to watch Racing Metro vs Stade Francias. An awesome experience!

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We were super fortunate as the hairy one was playing. Not playing well, but playing.

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Never let it be said that the French don't wear berets

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We had decided to make a bit of an afternoon/evening/as our nights out always go; early hours of the morning of it...

So post match the plan was karaoke. I was thinking standard bar, have a few drinks, wait your turn get up and sing badly and so we headed to the karaoke bar in Opera. Have to say after an amazing spectacle at the Rugby to get off the metro and head above ground to see this view was pretty something

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it's these moments that make me realise that my life is pretty special so do not fear, I'm not taking it for granted, not a chance in hell.

We walked down the road and headed into this dodgy looking closed down restaurant. The manager had a personality to match. We ordered a bottle of wine and then eventually he lead us downstairs through what I noted was also loosely sound proofed doors to a corridor which I have to say was vaguely reminiscent of something out of hostel. My faith was entirely in my boss's hands as we were lead to a door that was open

So what's behind door no. 2

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A soundproof room with a karaoke machine apparently!

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It was hilarious! You Hire the room for a per person charge by the hour, choose your songs (quickly, time is money!!!) and then just....sing! Sounds really simple and it is! If you need to exit the room at any point opening the door automatically turns the sound down too so as not to upset the neighbours. Oh my god did we laugh and most of us had throat. Issues the next day:

So pick a song

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Add friends

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Air guitar is optional

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We ended up in here for 3 hours, we had only booked an hour and ended up pleading a lot. 3 hours later... A bar in opera, some mojitos and a stand off in the commoners taxi line which wasn't as popular as the line of suits waiting for cabs outside the opera house it was 3am and I was in a taxi heading along the champs élysées towards the arc de triumph at place d'etoile.

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All good nights out should end like this.

I love my life.

Karen x