Friday, 30 September 2011

Il y a un singe Qui vole dans l'arbre (there's a flying monkey in the tree)

I'm procrastinating... Well I was, now I'm writing my blog for the week.

I'm sat at Zoes house as she is off on a surprise weekend for her birthday (first weekend without the kids ever!!) and so I'm house/dog/chicken/children sitting. So I'm on my usual spot on her beautiful balcony looking across the French countryside and trying to play with the dogs at the same time. Except Dobby who wants cuddles so I am obliging and trying to type this one handed

Aaaaaaaaah dobby being a love

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Been quite a lot going on this week but the main event for sure has been the weather! It's been amazing probably the hottest week I've known all year so I've been out in it catching a tan.... Well, working, honest (allegedly)

It's meant I could be outside at le stade so I have spent my days chasing the children round the track in the sunshine and in-between classes sunbathing on the steps and watching the lizards cgreep round me. Heaven.

Okay these are super blurry but here are some pics of my little lézards! (pronounced 'lazerrrrr, the French don't do the letter 'd')

The brown blur...

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blurry little lizard face or an out of focus velociraptor...

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Hideous place to work and not a cloud in the sky:

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Anyway I guess I'll go back to Monday which seems an age away! It's been a particularly long week as this week the extra workshops started so I now have an extra 4 hours dance and drama on top of my daily teaching schedule. So Monday saw me doing my PE lessons nothing new there same ol same ol and then there was drama... I have to say there are a minority of children in the school who would make you look at the list of enrolees and make you think...oh no.... I had them ALL across all my workshops. Whoop ;)

Anyway drama, this was definitely not the easiest as I had a couple of boys I'd particularly like to lynch at the best of times let alone ones who are in a class that is extra curricular and that their parents signed them up for. The class actually went really well but by god did I have a headache when I got home! Its tough teaching kids anyway, but children who don't speak your language doing drama? It was interesting, so I chose lots of physical exercises which were easy to comprehend by demonstration I spend a lot of my week miming and asides the noise levels...I think they went pretty well!

Tuesday was a fairly bog standard day nothing out of the ordinary here and then it was Wednesday! I only work a couple of hours on Wednesday but had to go in earlier this week to cover a class for one of the teachers. So here is where I would like to publicly apologise to my colleague, roomie and lovely friend Michelle for letting her painstakingly get the children in and quietly settled in their chairs knowing full well I was going to ask them to stand up again.

I don't know I'm going to be allowed to forget this one for a while.

I did an hour of active English games with them which went down a treat before taking a couple of hours out which gave me time to plan for the afternoons dance workshop. 3 hours and a smooth criminal routine later my dancers were good to go!

All work and no play and that I had a different evening lined up this day... I dashed home, changed and headed off with the Chief (Shawn) for a spot of golf at the Disneyland course and we spent the evening in the beautiful sunshine on the driving range and it was just amazing I really enjoyed it (better at golf than throwing an American football anyway) and it was such a relaxing way to spend an evening!

Me killing a golfball!

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To the smart arse who upon seeing this pic remarked I had next to noooo torso rotation I will happily remind; I BROKE MY SPINE IN 2 PLACES!!!! I'm lucky to have got thorough it with nothing but a little flexibility issue ;) it's nice I'm technically a cripple but you'd never know so I clearly do an awesome job of hiding it

Shawn about to properly murder a golf ball with far more style!

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We played until it was too dark to make the golf balls out much anymore (he does have fluorescent ones though for night time playing but not much use when you can't see the holes haha) and had a few practises shots on the putting green...I got very excited about the putting green as instantly recognised it was in the shape of the main mouse himself! A mickey mouse face shaped putting green AWESOME it's the little things.

Talking of things that are good in France I had to have a medical this week to prove I was fit to work. This was held in a little van in Esbly and was an interesting experience as I had to deal with a receptionist who was blatantly put out by my lack of French and didn't help me one iota by speaking as fast as she could and even though I used the French alphabet to sound off letters to her to help her spell things I had said that she didn't understand; I swear to god she was deliberately spelling it wrong and it was exasperating, she absolutely didn't want to listen and if there are 2 things I have no problem with in French, it's my alphabet and my numbers! I knew I wasn't just being paranoid when i called Michelle into help. Now Michelle has been in Paris for 2 years and her French is really good... But even for her she was ignoramously misspelling everything she said. The woman also kept changing the words she'd use to describe things which didn't help. She asked me one question several times over and i just couldn't understand her. When michelle came in she rephrased the question totally differently and it was always using a word I understood!!! Why do they do that???? Its so frustrating I'm really struggling with the language.

When michelle went in for her check up and i was in the waiting room this woman sat opposite me and proceeded to babble away to me in French. I apologised and said i was english, didn't understand her and didn't speak french. The woman paused a second, told me she didn't speak english and proceeded to just babble away in French to me anyway, laughing at her own jokes. I just smiled, nodded a lot and pretended the sign which just said 'please be seated and the doctor will see you soon' was reeeeeally interesting. Anyway after these two characters the doctor however was lovely with his big curly grey Einstein style moustache, he spoke clearly so even though he said everything in French I understood all questions! And the one i didn't get he said "ah google is mah frrriend" and got google translate up on his laptop!

"did I ever feel faint...."

Afterwards Michelle sat and marvelled at my fitness results because they were superb (but then I'm the sports teacher, would have been a poor show if they weren't)! Mind you I think it is well worth mentioning that the French diet is rather good for you. On paper it doesn't sound it I mean I have been living off eggs, the odd salad, fruit, ham (so far so good) cheese, pate (hmmm not top of the brilliant fats list) butter, a variety of sauces and wait for it; White bread and pasta!

Most my PT mates are probably shaking their heads in horror right now however, I sleep easily, I sleep well, I wake easily and well, indigestion is but a distant memory, no IBS problems at all stomach feels really good, my blood pressure is a little higher which is AWESOME as forever it has been dangerously low, my resting heart rate is back to where it was when I was at the peak fitness for marathon training (aiming for a 3:30 finish) and I have dropped weight. To be fair I'm chasing children all day but asides my little virus the other week I feel awesome and I can't quite believe how my body is doing!!! I very rarely do this but for the folks who are probably envisioning me turning into a living skeleton... Nope.

Happy with that (pure vanity!)

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I haven't even really trained asides the odd jog for about two months now! Hmmm maybe there is a lot to be said for sticking to the same training over and over again (go in, do weights, do cardio, go home...) so always dare to be different!

I had to shoot back to school after the medical and leg it straight back to sport (there's been a lot of dashing round this week!) this didn't change when at the end of the day I had my English enrichment lesson (children are doing really well so I ruined their day by telling them I wanted to do an exam next week to review unit 1) then soon as this lesson was over (quick boys v girls game if hangman to finish)I had dance so once again i ran back to the English classroom as I had 15 minutes to change this:

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Into this!

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Voila a dance studio!

Dance went really really well, the children were hilarious I mean out here they love Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson so I picked stuff I hoped they would like...I have been down with the kids and downloaded some Justin Bieber tracks and much to the disgust of my two colleagues we are now all walking round humming "baby baby baby...." I only have to walk past Chris and do a quick "woah woah wooooah woah" and when he has finished swearing at me we all sit there and go "actually it's quite catchy" but it got so bad it got to the point when we were sat in the classroom together working then one of us would just start humming it and we aren't even aware we are doing it till someone in the room either tells that person to shut up or throws something at them.

Guilty pleasures, a bit of NKOTB found it's way onto my iPod this week, I was walking through Montry on my own on my way home the other night when "step by step ooooh baaaaaabbbyyyyy" burst into my ears. I just stood there and laughed out loud. I probably looked incredibly insane but I was tickled.

Anyway the First few tracks went down well with my little ones then

"oh I don't liiiiiiike Usher"

uh oh fail.... Until the hypocrites started singing along to it at the top of their voices. Don't like him eh?

Same for Justin Bieber, so much for oh they will like this...

It was like a classroom of mini Andys from little Britain.

"I don't like it...."

Then the chorus kicked in and I was deafened by...


Then when it finished all I got was "karrreeeennn Caaaan weeee hav-a tat song AGAAAAAAAAAAIIINNNNN PLEEEEEEAAAAAASE?!

Oh i dont know, you guys don't like Justin Bieber.....

OoooOOOOOOOOOoooooooooh pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaase.


Fickle bunch.

But the workshops were a success (bar the girl who sat in the corner and cried for the entire time because her mum signed her up for it and she didn't want to do it). She's one of the children that is what I would class as 'away with the fairies' or a bit of a space cadet. Lovely lovely children but some you can call their names till you are blue in the face and they will still be staring at that same spot on the floor, circling it and giggling to themselves. Theres one child i have nicknamed Taz because basically they have to be a relative, I mean we were sat discussing this when on lunch duty and turned round to look to see where said child was only to find them with their head cocked to one side, mouth open as wide as they could, eyes crossed and trying to fit their spoon in their mouth sideways.

There's never a dull moment! Mind you I have got to report back to Michelle who thought this child might be colour blind (they are a particularly tricky little student but if there's a genuine problem it cannot be ignored) so I had set up a colour recognition exercise in sport today and warned my assistant we thought their may be a colour blindness issue so wasn't going to penalise them for it (the game involved basically being 'out' if you ran to the wrong colour...) and I have to say there was absolutely no problems with this child picking out the right colours whatsoever. That's that little problem solved...

However I'm still working on two very tiny ones though who are both definitely not quite with the programme and stick together like glue. I had an entire 2 hours today where I could call the entire class to me, explain the Rules, the class would all run off to prepare and I'd turn round and sure enough; those 2 would stil be sitting there on the floor huddled together stuffing twigs up their nose.

These children provide all the moments of hilarity in PE although more often than not when they are they having their little moments in another land they happen to be at the front of the line for the activity in hand and when you finally finally break them out of their trance they look at you go huh? Uh.... Aaaaggggghhhhhhhahahahaha and run off in completely the opposite direction. First couple of weeks my forehead was very red from the amount of times I'd slapped it with my own hand but now I know who is who and prepare for it by knowing their flight path (basically the exact opposite way to the rest of their classmates) so my shins are a bit bruised from acting as a crash barrier but it's working! Some kids I literally have to lead round by the hand even after I have demonstrated it several times and their other 20 classmates have done it before them and they can still stand their with a 'huh me? Well what do you want me to do?' expression.

Anyway back to dance workshops...this little space cadet was one of my students. If dance involved spinning round with your arms out and head lolling back for half an hour gazing at the ceiling then she'd have probably been super happy...but it doesn't and she wasn't. It's tough to leave a child crying when you really want to try and involve them and make it a positive experience, but I had 12 other children who all wanted to be there and so they had to come first!

It's always nice when at the end of the lesson though when you say it's finished and a room full of kids go oooooOOOOOoooooh start pouting and then throw themselves at you for a hug.

It's a lovely school the children here are children. They scratch around the playground like free range chickens scratching around their paddock, collecting insects and conkers and leaves... (I'm actually talking about the children again here not chickens that was merely a visual reference). They play conkers, they play marbles, British bulldog is not banned and the biggest craze out here right now is something called beyblades which are basically, wait for this, spinning tops. SPINNING TOPS! I mean seriously??? They have interchangeable heads and compatible parts which make them more efficient at spinning...I was a bit fixed by this initially but now I think it's quite lovely. It's great to see children being children.

Anyways back to the days of the week, the medical was Thursday and also at the end of the day was our meeting regarding the England trip. This is happening next April and I am one of the staff accompanying the children to Bristol/bath for a week so a meeting was held to let the parents know what is happening with it. I am very excited at the prospect of this trip although know it is going to be damned tiring and it'll be hard being so close yet so far from all my family and friends! But I still cannot believe I have this job! 2 of the French teachers are going but otherwise it's me, Michelle and Christian. I LOVE these guys they are brilliant one thing I'll never ever discuss here though is the conversations we have in the classroom. Asides Christians seriously bad jokes we have a warped sense of humour. Now I know how teachers cope with the stresses of their jobs, you gotta have that slightly sick sense of humour to cope! But I couldn't ask to work with two better people they are simply awesome. I think sometimes it's illegal to laugh so much in a workplace. Long may it continue.

Anyway it is now Friday and I have a crazy weekend ahead of me with the aforementioned sitting.

Just taken a break from writing this to feed the chicks, do their waters, check on the chickens, water the new lawn and have some dinner.

All peaceful here.

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Good night John boy xxx

Monday, 26 September 2011

Ne pas rentrer de la nuit: to stay out all night.

Well I'm writing this as my last will and testament. I'm shattered. I had the most amazing weekend and then today I had a long day as I had a full day teaching PE and then I had to teach English and then I had to teach drama and then... It was 5pm and I'd finished. Phew. I have this all week now as my drama and dance classes have started on top of my sports amd english lessons. But drama was particularly tough as it was at the end of the day with a bunch of children that didn't particularly want to be there and who didn't especially want to listen either, least of all to someone not speaking in their native Tongue. The chattiest kids on the planet and some of the ones who listen the least.... I had them. It wasn't easy, I think Arnie in kindergarten cop style I'm gonna get a whistle as I'm not totally sure my voice will hold out till Christmas haha ;)

Anyways sooooo back to the weekend, Which was epic. I got up crack of dawn Saturday morning, got the bus to Disney, jumped on the RER and headed into Paris. 45 minutes later I came up blinking in to the sunlight at the arc de triomphe and already it was a glorious morning!

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Last time I walked out of this RER station was new years January 2009 and it was BITTER Paris is horrendously cold in winter and so I was well wrapped up, everything except my eyes and I remember thinking that if I had a pair I'd have been wearing goggles. I'm shocked my eyes didn't freeze open!

The day I'm talking about...

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Anyway Even though today was a blazingly hot and sunny morning (weather was amazing last week) as I stepped off the RER and started the ascent to street was STILL blowing a bitter gale through the tunnels so I'm guessing it's just standard. Tip: If you ever need to disembark at the CDG Etoile stop; wrap up warm!!!

The RER journey itself in was fine though! I keep hearing all these amusing and horrific stories from Michelle and Christian in the mornings about the crazy people they've encountered on their way in (from Christian with the guy who threw up down himself to Michelle sitting next to a woman on the train who was enjoying the ride a little TOO much if you get me!!) but it was very uneventful for me and very pleasant (which as Michelle put i when I told her; if there were no crazies in the carriage maybe you are the crazy). I sat there iPod on and remembered the last time I was on this train, iPod on and heading into paris was after my job interview only this time on this morning I was smiling, as opposed to the last time when I was hiding behind my hair so no one else could see the stupid fact I was actually crying (yeah okay on that occasion it's fair to say I was the crazy). Crying because I didn't know what the hell to do! (if you are new to my blog please go back and read the first ever entry and add your own flashback music).

I'm smiling because this IS what I wanted after all. Yes it could all have gone horribly wrong, still could but right now 1 month in it's best case scenario and better than I could have imagined it.

Rent came on whilst I was musing over this and the words to the song;

"I can't control, my destiny, I trust my soul, my only goal is just to be"

How true.

I had actually come into Paris early to pop to the orange store on the champs élysées prior to meeting my friends in Montmartre at 10am for the France vs NZ match, however as this is Paris I discovered the shop doesn't open until 12 on Saturday's. Welcome to France. They only work when they have to and this doesn't really include all of saturday, at all on Sunday, or Monday (to make up for the 4 hour inconvenience they endure Saturday's) or where possible Wednesday's either... No I'm not kidding in fact there's a word for it here if a sign says 12pm (and something that sounds like 'plis'!) It means on the dot. I've never experienced it myself but I guarantee if 12pm came and you were still in the line waiting to be served you'd be packed out the door!

Anyway I had a good hour odd to kill so I wandered into the only place open for a coffee on the champs at that time ... Macdonalds. Well this wasn't Macdonalds as I knew it , it was also a Mccafe!! So not only did it have fancy interior decor

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It also had fancy cakes

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And a fancy entrance spelling out where you are and decked with cool stools so you could sit and view the champs élysées whilst you had your coffee which I duly did

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I'm also really shocked to say it was one of the nicest coffees I have ever had! You want a good cappuccino? Seriously go to Maccy D's I kid you not.

So post Maccy's I hopped back on line 2 at CDG Etoile and headed to place de clichy at Montmartre to meet my friends at the French Flair Rugby bar there. However the French were already there in their droves and were even standing out in the street to watch the screen!

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So we headed over to the Irish bar and whilst we couldn't get inside, they had set up an extra area outside!

Yup we were a fair way back...

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It was great to watch even though French played so badly but it was a brilliant atmosphere and all the French joined in the national anthem at the beginning so it was awesome to be in the crowd, we were even given free drinks and being an Irish bar you were served by a genuine Irish guy who delighted us saying 'tats turteen fifty please' aaah funny as hell. The other amusement of the morning was the fact there was a slight time delay on the screen we were watching it in so the difference from the screens inside the pub to where we were sat was about 3 seconds. Enough for us to wonder why everyone in the bar suddenly went mental then 3 seconds later France got a try in. Later it helped saved the suspense over the kick France took. As they lined up the ball to take the kick on our screen the crowd inside the bar let us know they scored...

Post match we set a time to all meet up again ahead of the evenings show at the stade de France we had tickets for and I wandered off to enjoy Montmartre. Before I left the house I dived into my box of cards that provide you with mini self guided Paris tours one of my clients bought me as a leaving pressie and picked up 3 for the Montmartre area so off I went but first I went for a wander around Montmartre cimitière. I last visited this place in early 2009 and it's so peaceful! Although Parisian graveyards do have a massive over crowding issue, it's not so much the amount of dead but there insistency on large and exotic mausoleums to remember them by.

Crowd control issues:

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It even has it's own avenues

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Nijinskys beautiful resting place

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So morbidness done I took off with my cards!

Which took me past lots of little boutiques and fancy shops full of mouth watering goodies. Eiffel tower cheese anyone?

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up beautiful side streets

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Past the rue de galette

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To the famous 'Lapin Agile', built in the 1800's the cabaret club was initially set up to disrupt plans for more housing in the area. The haunt of several famous bohemian artists such as Toulouse lautrec and Picasso who spent many a boozy absinthe filled night here singing away and to this day It still is as it was then, entertainment and all.

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located right opposite the only remaining vineyard on la butte

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Before I wound my way back through place du tertre (particularly heaving with tourists today) to the sacre coeur where i stopped after all that walking to relax and take in the view

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And enjoy the sound of live Parisian jazz floating through the air to accompany my lunch. Perfect afternoon in Paris.

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All that is missing is......

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Ah there she is. Beautiful as always :)

I had a lot of time to think today and write, I had taken my little notebook with me as writing is like my therapy, when I'm on my own I take a notebook. I also sat and read back through some of my last entries in it. I love writing it helps me escape, offload and voice things I cannot say and sometimes I read them back and sometimes I can't. Whenever I used to have clients who were troubled I always recommended they kept a notebook to write in. Often I'd buy them one as a pressie and encourage them to use it and say you don't have to ever read it back, you may not want to, one day you might, no one else needs ever see this you do with the words as you choose, but I know the power of doing so. I'm so grateful I do this myself.

This particular notebook was the one I had taken to Rome with me. In 2010 I went on a solo holiday post marriage break up to coincide with my wedding anniversary as I couldn't face being in the UK for that date. That holiday saved my life.

As I sat reading through the notes about how sad i was, how scared, I came across a sentence about how I realised I was in the true grip of depression and needed to do something about it but depression is like a bunch of silent ties holding you down when you really need to get off your ass.

This really shocked me as I knew I was down through that period of my life but I had never admitted that to my nearest and dearest and don't ever remember admitting it to myself but there it was in black ink. My life is a world away from that right now, I sometimes worry if I'm doing okay but wow even if I had a lonely day lately it's never THAT bad.

A few short weeks before in the March of 2010 I truly thought my life was over. Pointless. I didn't want to live anymore. If I'd been a more selfish individual believe me I'd have done something about it but I'm not, so I didn't and thank god.

Its always nice to have proof for future reference that when things don't appear to be going your way that there absolutely WILL be a brighter day.

Its good to be able to look back at that and know my life wasn't even remotely over, it was only just beginning.

As the day was drawing on I had agreed to meet everyone at Cafe Oz at 7pm. Chris had said to meet at pigalle stop which confused everyone no end as cafe Oz is at Blanche stop (the next metro stop along it's a pretty short distance thankfully...) he's meant to live here! Ha.

Bonjour Moulin Rouge! At the Blanche station.

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I arrived first but i had to leave and detour for a little bit as got accosted by some French dude who didn't speak much English, I was friendly enough, happily told him I taught sport. This apparently gave him an open invitation to try to feel my stomach apparently to see how flat it was. I was not amused. This was followed by wanting to see and test the bicep muscle however he wasn't going to let go of my arm. He asked if I boxed, I mimed kick boxing was my specialty and demonstrated I could raise my leg to funnily enough his crotch height at lightening speed and then made my exit. French guys are a bit pushy I'm finding. In England at least you can ignore blokes if they're trying to catch your eye but here I so far discovered this weekend if you ignore them and keep your head down they'll just come over and put themselves in your eyeline, even if you are looking at the floor (I kid you not) also they'll find ANY excuse to touch you (if they aren't testing your muscles they go to give you a full body hug) "ah sa eeenglish guuurl you air funnyyyyyyyy" huuuuuuuuugs, or they'll just tell you you are beautiful and focus all their attention on your mouth whilst you are tying to talk to them (body language hint for a kiss no. 1 in psychology of flirting, google it if you don't believe me the 'look at their mouth' tactic!)

I find it a bit sleazy.

I was even less down with the guy who walked his wheelie bin in front of me when I was walking down one road and when I went to step round him he reversed it and blocked me that way also... After the third blockage I told him very politely in French to f*** off. It doesn't feel like swearing if you say it in another language :)

I just know my dad will be reading this and having I'm fine I can handle it. Trust me my best friends know the man is going to come off far worse ;)

So so far French men opinion is to all of you that said 'go find yourself a nice French boyfriend' well if this is the bench mark then the names Jones, Bridget (Mlle) and perfectly happy that way! Even though I am missing hugs but find me a person that doesn't.

Oh and a quick after thought; Sorry Zoe I leave exception of the rule for Thierry you got lucky!

So French men disaster aside we all met up at cafe Oz and had a quick drink before we headed to the stade de France and tried to sandwich in as many awful camelot jokes into our sentences as possible ('I hope they don't do Arthur a job with this show', 'I think we have heard merlin enough' 'if someone frequents a place would you say they camelot') I'm not even going to go on it's painful just to type it so I think that's 'Morgan le fay're share. Such geeks.

Anyways we went to the stade de France and WOW what a venue and what a show! The tickets we had were free from a friend who is an employee at le stade so we didn't know what to expect but we all bundled away saying the same thing; it was simply amazing!

The stade du France Post show so you can see it properly!

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I got some pics of the production unfortunately my amazing ones I can't get off my camera as can't find the lead so just got the ones I took with my iPhone:

The set

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Awesome lighting!

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Jousting ready to commence!

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The round table

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Major battle scenes and pyromaniacs dream!

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I wouldn't know where to start in explaining it, the stunts were incredible, the jousting was fun with the stade separated into different houses (Cornwall, Scotland, Wales...) we were in Scotland on the yellow team so got to chant

"allez jeune" or " GO YELLOW!" if you like

Then after Arthurs victory at jousting against Lancelot (my mate Christian loses points here for yelling "don't do it mate he's going to have your missus...")

the crowd cheered and chanted

"vive le roi!"

no one has said THAT in France for a very long time...

There was magic, fire, birds of prey, doves, trick riding, and the most incredible battle scene where flaming balls and arrows were fired into the air and across the stadium like a scene from a movie! (think Robin Hood Prince of Thieves) incredible, lighting, sound and I think possibly the piece de resistance was the rider and horse circling the stage enveloped in fire an incredible stunt. Mario Luraschi had once again trained the horses (last years spectacle was Ben Hur) and this man can get the horses to do anything for him including ride around covered in flames. A legend.

It's almost sad to think all that work and it was only on for 2 nights and will never be seen again I feel the rest of the world missed out on something special there!

Post show frivolities more fun started. I had toyed with catching the last train home but instead we decided to all go for one drink somewhere and then... We decided to see just how late we could stay out as we were far too awake and the night was far from over. So someone said 'lets just stay out til the trains start again!" Now I have stayed out late in London but generally places shut at 4am and then a trip to mcdonalds, a kebab house or noodle stop and a night bus ride home later and it's 6am and you are turning the key in the door. We hopped on the metro to St Michel and then that was it, i smiled as we wandered over the seine at the ile de cité and glanced across to Notre Dame (lights were off though as it was super late by now) as for at least the 6th time today i was finally viewing this place as a resident which i am not to take for granted! Then the next time I looked at my watch it was 3am, then it was 6am and we were hearing the 5th last order bell of the night! We had literally gone from place to place all night and the time flew past! I don't remember half of what we talked about, I do vaguely remember Michelle and Richard giving me a crash course in French on 'before, after, next, near, far..' god knows why those phrases and I knew I certainly wouldn't remember it the next day. Show offs :) the entertainment raged on thought and There was even live music in the last bar, the guys were playing a random selection of rock and jazz and at one point jingle bells...let's not go there.... It was however still dark so I grabbed a couple of hours sleep at my friends house and then headed back home.

In the UK when you are going home the day after the night before it is known as the walk of shame.

Yep I used to delight in spotting these tired looking creatures on a Sunday still dressed in clearly the same clothes they went out in last night who were just making their way back. Today it was me. Which is fine until you are stood at the bus stop at Disneyland then it feels wholly wrong. Especially standing there watching all the happy joyous families tripping off on their day of innocent fun and adventure and I'm there partaking in the walk of shame. Sorry Walt.

Needless to say Sunday I was shattered and very reluctantly had to turn down a game of golf over at Disneyland with Shawn Sunday night and had kept myself awake all day on purpose (to sleep would have been stupid!) so I spent the day planning the weeks lessons for PE and as of next week the 4 extra workshops a week I do starting with the drama that I had today are kicking in of an evening so I had to get that straight.

I decided 8pm was a perfectly acceptable bed time. Epic epic epic weekend.


Ps. If you think you are having a really s*** time with your life right now... Get a notebook :)

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Faire un tabac; Make a tobacco. (Be the toast of the town)

Okay so it's been about a week since I updated this, if I'm honest then I've just been being lazy. I'm fully recovered from my nasty French flu but I was tired as after it, so got lots of fresh air, have been walking the dog, reading my book and just chilling out.

I left my last blog just before the weekend so thats where I'll start it! Saturday I headed off on an adventure to Val D'Europe to do some shopping and it's been ages since I visited there! Took me an hour to walk to Disney (it's still exciting I can do that, cutting across the fields and looking ahead to see space mountain in the distance) then hopped on a bus from chessy and 5 minutes later voila! I swear the place is bigger than I remember it and it has EVERYTHING. I fell into Auchan and came out 20€ lighter...but had nearly a weeks food shopping and some stationery...what is it with new stationery why is it so exciting to buy, why is a stationery aisle always so appealing?! Anyway I mentally spent several hundred pound in there but left as I had to haul it all back home still.

Few piccies for those who have never seen it, this place is mere minutes by RER/bus from Disneyland.

One of the entrances:

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More inside....

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A little music whilst you shop...

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There is way more to the place than that, there's a whole other floor, an aquarium a massive food court, an entire outdoor street known as 'the village' which is a massive seconds designer outlet and not many people know it's there... It's awesome I get to live in a lovely very French village in the middle of nowhere but for entertainment I have Disneyland and for shopping etc I have this place right on my doorstep and central Paris is 30 mins away should I fancy it! Ideal location, I'm a very lucky girl and I know it right now.

One of the things I haven't mentioned here before is the Graf in the area. The french love their street 'art' and even in my sleepy little area these treasures are present (sorry picture extravaganza today people!)

Here kitty kitty... (there's also a tiger randomly on the wall a couple of streets away)

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Photographing me photographing vous...

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One of several cats (I found a new incredible one today will get pics up soon!!!)

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It's everywhere!!!

Anyway that was Saturday. Sunday got off to a very stupid proper blonde start. Alarm went off at 04:15am ready to switch on the computer, turn on expat shield and log onto ITV (thank you expat shield for allowing me to watch UK tv!!!) and watch the Wales match... Just one rather stoopid problem. It may be 04:15am and kick off is at 04:30am, but that is UK time and I'm in France!!!!! So it's only 03:15am in the UK. Anoyed but awake I switched on the coffee machine and read my book whilst dipping in and out of watching this years Olympia for an hour and then the match started. When I had watched Wales win I got up went for a small run myself with a few basic squats, lunges and press ups thrown in before heading back to shower and watch England win! Awesome start to the day.

Once the matches were over i headed over to Esbly to the Brocante and to pop to Zoe's for an aperitif and a catchup after. Now Brocantes are fascinating. It is basically a car boot/garage sale but the whole town empties all the rubbish from their houses and sells it on the street or outside their house, as opposed to flogging it from their car boot in a muddy field somewhere whilst charging you for the privilege of sloshing through the mud to look at their aforementioned mentioned rubbish. I strolled over the canals to Esbly wondering if I'd find it going on anywhere obvious (the one the week before in my village was a teeny affair and got rained off) but sure enough when I got to Esbly what gave it away was that normally Esbly high street is like a ghost town, maybe the usual guy with his glass of wine sat outside the local bar (yup he's there, even at 7am!) the guy smoking outside his tabac store and some tumbleweed drifting past, but today...

Esbly high street in the grip of a Brocante!!

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They really do sell anything...

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It was fabulous wondering round perusing the stalls there was some fab stuff! You have to haggle too I was told, often you can get it for half what it's marked at. You have got to remember at these events though, you are in france and the french are not spatially aware (actually they just dont care) and if they walk into you it's officially your fault so you get jostled through and you have to deal with it. This is them, they aren't british, I'm not in the uk, they're not super rude they are how they are the same way that Hugh Grant epitomises us English people (bumbling and apologetic and wondering why the rest of the world aren't as polite as us) Someone once said that if abroad you could always find the British people in a darkened auditorium by just working your way along the rows treading on peoples toes until someone apologises to you...

Anyway the atmosphere was fab on a sleepy Sunday morning meanwhile let it never be said that the French dont stereotype themselves over the whole French bread thing:

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Yep they do it all the time, you know you are near a boulangerie, the number of people passing you with baguettes under their arm increases. Speaking of French bread did you know the word baguette basically means three things. 1. That I can't remember (useful I know) 2. French stick (obviously) 3. If you go to a Chinese restaurant and ask for a baguette you'll get chopsticks...

No wonder I'm finding it to so hard to learn French (asides the fact my friends out here are English, American, Irish and south African...) it's even more of a wonder when my bilingual housemate tells me she once counted 54 variations of the SAME verb.

So post Brocante I popped into see Zoe who along with her husband filled me up with the loveliest food as they always do, allowed me to chase the chickens, amused the boys on the trampoline and played with the dogs

Silly soppy boys...

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before heading home along the canals to walk off the food and especially the amazing strawberry Flan we had for afters.

Zoe had told me of this little workout area just off the canal which was on my route home so decided to check it out as having walked that way several times I couldn't recall what she was on about. Sure enough I came across first this sign which is a grafted map of the route:

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Then there are signs telling you where to rest and jog:

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And then mini obstacles on the path!

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Fabulous!!! So been using them initially in the morning but lately the light has turned almost overnight and the mornings are suddenly extremely dark now...rubbish.

The next night I was out walking Sasha and exploring a new part of the canal when I acme across more signs!

Suggesting stretches:

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Some chin bars just off the path:

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The canals here are beautiful and so these are an amazing addition to a jog! I love the scenery out here you get the most amazing fauna and flora, came across these very beautiful flowers growing wild

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And it turns out in France they didn't get the memo that these were rare...

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Turns out the grey Squiggles are the rare ones here... Beeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaauuuutiful!

Any who it's not been all play. Actually yes it has but that's besides the point. I do also have to work. Sometimes. Apart from today during my 15 min break between class change over, it was super hot so i was sunbathing down at le stade, watching the little lizards scurrying about and thinking how much I was hating being me. Damn any minute now a bunch of children are going to turn up and we are going to play for an hour....I'm getting paid for this *smug mode*.

This week I've been teaching throwing which is pretty easy going however if you asked my friend Shawnee who I spent half an hour throwing an American football round with pre-fitness training with the aigles de meaux American football team...he'd laugh. But I am apparently starting to throw less like a girl and getting a good spin on the ball. When he's not ripping into me for being a sports teacher. Annoyingly I could have gone to Disney with him tonight to play golf but I had parents evening, although parents evening is fun, especially the couple of hours respite I had during which Michelle and I popped to the boulangerie in Montry, bought pastries and flopped on the grass in a mini park to consume and discuss our lives. Is the little moments like that I enjoy the most!

It's just as well from next week life gets way more hectic... I have to do 2 extra dance and drama workshops after school from then so a lot more planning is involved from next week and I got a taster of the work that is cut out for me in running these on Wednesday when I did a dance workshop with some of the children in the afternoon. Some of the girls who signed up for it really surmised me, until we started the class then I realised they had thought dance was the easy option and had just come to be able to jump around without structure... When they discovered I had a routine for them to learn and perform to the others an hour later which required them to listen and learn their easy afternoon get out clause bubble was well and truly burst and they'd missed out on plan B which was a nice easy afternoon of arts and crafts...that'll learn them. But it's not my job to let them mess about therefore it wasn't allowed. I can be quite tough on them but you have to be and so far I've had reports from parents saying everything from the lessons are good (from children who never say that about sport), to their favourite, to the best lesson they ever it's working somewhere down the line!

Anyway that's pretty much it for the week, not my usual tone and lots of pics but it's been a recovery week so my brain isn't up to scratch yet. However it's almost the weekend for which so far the plan is I am heading into Paris to watch the rugby Saturday morning, then I am spending the day in Paris before going to see Excalibur at le stade du France with friends Saturday night, a few drinks in Paris then home. Genial!

Bon soirée

Karen xxx