Saturday, 3 September 2011

PRENDRE LE TAUREAU PAR LES CORNES. Take the bull by the horns. (To face a problem.)

Ever get the feeling you are flying by the seat of your pants? I do.

I have just spent 2 days at school, 2 days which both started with 2.5 hour meetings held entirely in french and as the only non French speaker in the room... This wasn't easy (although we had A tray of hot fresh pain au chocolates and croissants which makes a change from digestives to chew on and my other very english habit which really stood out was i was sat there with my tea with...milk in it!!!)actually you can tell which is the English room it's the one with the tea making equipment. As soon as we discovered that there was only one kettle in the whole school the entire English dept. (Michelle, Chris and I basically) got to it and in came the kettle, teabags, sugar and milk. I kind of think Michelle and I are going to be the naughty ones of the school as we both have a penchant for giggling (although I have it on authority I don't giggle I cackle-loudly) and not only do we share a love for Disney we were the ones sat there drinking our tea out of Disney mugs!!! I have my tinker bell and she has stitch! Plus of course as we work by Disneyland we know people will think it's perfectly acceptable to see 2 people stood at the bus stop in winter wearing our stitch Santa hats which we both own (I already love this girl!!).

The infamous stitch ears which WILL make an appearance at Xmas:

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Back to serious stuff; I have finally been handed the curriculum with a few days to go and may i say the 23 page document is entirely in french also... I have however learned more French words! Probably not terribly useful ones but more is good and the French are having a hard time pronouncing my name too. Now when learning French there's the whole hacking and gagging that is the 'r' sound I am really struggling to get my head round.

I thought I'd got it down and so when in the coffee shop the other day I swallowed my courage (you feel so self conscious!) and like a local walked up to the counter like i was born here and ordered

'une americano s'il vous plait'

No one needed to get out an umbrella, the end of the word didnt get stuck, i got it all out, it sounded fine, I had done good. I managed to spit the r of a-meh-cchhrrrrr-I-cano quite nicely and it must have made a change for the assistant as every other person in there appeared to be from up north of the UK and so were ordering in English with northern accents and here was me ordering it in her native Tongue, spitty R sound and everything except the words 'americano' did not appear on the screen in front of me as she input my order but 'caramel frappuccino' seriously I don't think my attempt was THAT bad, maybe she misheard me...

I'm trying!!!

Anyway, school is bliss we had 2 typically stinking hot days (the first all week) and of course we were holed up in the classrooms both days arranging things for the coming Monday and battling spiders... Seriously because we are in the woods there is no shortage of Arachnids. To make them seem friendlier I have even tried naming them after Harry Potter characters based on something Michelle one of my fellow (also new) English teachers said. The first one we found was massive and she took one look at it and said "it looks like something out of Harry Potter!" so I named it Aragon, we quickly removed Aragon and promptly found Hagrid living up a corner (he will not be moved though he's sticking in his corner) any future small ones will be Ron, hermione and Harry, we found a member of the black widow species which sadly ended up squashed but not before he was christened Malfoy. One of the other teachers thought he found a cockroach to make a change from the spiders but he reported it promptly fell off the side and landed in a web. This makes the spiders useful for something then! Ayway I am painting a horror story of the place, it's not some entomologists wet dream I swear (google it)it's a really sweet little school located nice and privately in the middle of nowhere although it only takes me 20 mins to walk home (it's all downhill too which is a bonus but I'm dreading the walk up!!!)but the settings are lovely so here are some piccies:

Peacefully located in the woodlands

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Apparently we are located in the grounds for hogwarts (random chateau there are lots of these about)

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Also appear to border with narnia

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the playground PRE leaf clearing

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Ah home from home the sign on the classroom door :)

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Thursday & Fridays task, filing this lot...

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May I also say the food out here is much much healthier than in the UK and if I'm eating at school I am actually getting pretty decent food!

Your choices:

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The Hors d'ouevre choice

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Plat garni (main) baked fish, puffed wheat and navette (turnip) with a poivre (pepper) sauce.

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Dessert choices!!

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I have been awesomely good and getting cheese and fruit and leaving the cake on the shelf (dammit)

Now I briefly mentioned my colleagues earlier so I'll mention them again, I'm very lucky! We all met for the first time round my franglais guardian angel zoes house on the wednesday night when we had a lovely get together PRE our first day at school. Everyone bought little bits and we had bread, cheeses, meats, pate, this amazing dessert and some champagne to toast whilst we still all have our sanity at the start of the school year. It was a very international table, Patryjca there was Zoe who is self described as; nearly Scottish initially, chris and i both english, who is polish but speaks everything including Japanese, Michelle who is south African origin and her boyfriend Chris who is a mix of everything but sounds American/Scottish without ever having lived in either of those places! (I think one of his parents was Austrian and he was raised just about everywhere). Eventually the conversation turned to accents and Michelle with her south African accent said she realised as an 'English' nanny she had to be careful when the French boy she was looking after started instead of saying he had 'fish' for tea was saying 'fush'. We soon turned to the French accent (Thierry zoes husband was the only person at the table to defend the country...) and asides there trouble pronouncing 'Karen' because of the hacking and gagging they do on the 'r' and in France the letter 'r' is next to never followed by a phonetic 'e' sound (if the adults are struggling god knows how the kids will find it!) the other letter that troubles them is: H. Michelle said for ages she couldn't get her head round it. The family for whom she worked as a nanny had a French driver and one day he turned to her in the car and said (insert own French accent here...)

"I am angry"

So she said she asked him why?! His response:

"because I 'aven't eaten since breakfast!!"

So 'angry' actually was 'Hungry'. Think about it.

The following day It really made me giggle to myself when one of the teachers turned to me during the meeting at school and said

"Karrrren een the beginning eet will be art"

Yep she's right it will be hard ;)

After 2 days at school which saw me doing a LOT of homework after hours (2 hour long PE lessons to prepare for...2 hours??!!) Friday night I put myself to bed with a massive headache. I know once I have a couple of weeks under my belt it will be fine but right now it's really nerve wracking, there's lots to remember, you can't judge or plan much till you have met the kids and it's all pretty stressful right now but I suppose stress is like a rocking chair it gives you something to do but doesn't necessarily get you anywhere. I always tell myself this and one day I may even believe it. I just have to remember I got the job, I got myself here, I survived some rough times over the last couple of years so this is something new, cats always land on their feet and I'll be fine because I always am.

Anyway my next and last hurdle before the kids was a bank account! However first things first I donned my sexy calf guards and went for a run!

My 2XU's hopefully keeping my shin pain at bay!!

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I believe this view is an awesome start to the morning, it smells good, looks good, the birdsong here is amazing so no need for iPod you just feel alive!! I have to admit I'm a country girl at heart

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So run complete I was all set for Saturday morning with my appointment at BNP in Esbly with the lovely Anne taking me and acting as my proof of address. Now I love Anne but like I said before she can talk! So I'm not sure it normally takes an hour and a half to open an account but that said there was a hell of a lot of paperwork!

See all the paperwork? That's mine...

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French banks paperworks aside are easy, you have to pay a monthly fee for your debit card (carte bleu)like an insurance if you lose it, also I got a choice of check book size, I get something called a RIB no. (which is basically like your account number for when you start a new job) a 0-500€ overdraft allowance as standard which is free for 15 days if you use it, the opportunity to have money paid for using your card debited from your account at the time you pay for it (tout de suite!) or in one lump sum on an agreed date at the end of each month and also a facility that allows you if you don't have the money on the spot to pay for something to buy it anyway and spread the payment over the next few months (apparently French ladies use this for the sales...)

I declined the monthly options and no matter how much they offered me an ISA I declined this also. I have one in the UK I never use is my argument there!

Anyway this whole thing was done with anne as my translator. It's hilarious when she talks to me she often gets confused and drops French words into her sentence but so too when she speaks in French does she do the reverse and drop in English words! She was acting as translator but there were an awful lot of times when she was merely gassing with the bank manager and then they'd pause and look at me and she'd say

"so what do you think." or "which do you want to go for"

I had to remind her I had no clue what the lady had just said and she was meant to be interpreting for me, or the best was when she turned to me and started talking in French...

"um Anne...wrong language!"

The bank managers English wasn't great so when Anne had to pop out to the car to check Sasha was okay we mostly sat there in silence. We tried to sustain a franglais conversation for as long as we both could before we both couldn't stop laughing and decided to wait for Anne to return. After 10 minutes I popped out to see where she had got to to find her gassing with her neighbour in the street....

Love this woman!

There was a sad moment when the bank manager brought up visual records of her signature for her account on the computer screen and the first set contained her and her ex husbands signatures as a joint. This completely took her aback and upset her deeply so afterwards we popped out for a coffee. The signature was from the day they both landed in France and opened their first account in the country together, she could even sit and describe the way he used to tail off one of the letters in his surname when he did his signature. It doesn't matter it was years ago or that she no longer loves him, that's not the point.

"silly really" she said "but it was so unexpected"

Not at all silly not even in the slightest, with only just going through the final stages of divorce myself and still dealing with the end of my last relationship with a guy who i loved more than anything and who to this day, says breaking up with me is the biggest mistake he has ever made and he regrets it every day (not that you'll see him doing much about it) I felt her pain there.

When someone goes from your life however they go, a small part of you goes too. That little wound will always remain and sometimes if it's touched, it's sore. There's also another pain though that comes from when you split from your partner; as is so often what happens in the mans case they instantly just pick up with someone else (I thought women were meant to be the needy ones!) and the pain of this is the most unbearable thing in the world. To sit back and watch them with someone else like you never existed and to witness this new woman basically becoming what once was you, in your home, your bed, going with them to what were your places when you have barely even left the building. I have been through this twice myself now with both my last relationships and both times the new girls pretty much let the door hit me in the ass on the way out and for me the last one is still incredibly raw (i went to what was my old local shop in London only for the guys in there to say "aaah we havent seen you for ages how are you? We miss you! Your ex he has a new girlfriend now yes? We see them in here!" ouch!!! I only went in for some juice and half a dozen eggs! And yeah I'll take a pound of heartache too whilst I'm here...) and you hope it gets easier with time; but here 20 years on this woman still feels the pain of that which just goes to show how cruel a process it can be and how scarred a heart can be left. I don't want that to be me so I'm trying. I'm here aren't I :)

People think life is ruled by money, I'd say it's love. In some form or another it is love that makes the world go round and someone's love or lack of can dictate our mood, our situation, present and future and the power of it should never be under estimated and those who choose to wield it in the wrong way are possibly the cruelest of them all. But when it's good isn't it the greatest :)

Anyway that's a bit of a heavy note to end on!!

So I'm signing out, have spent the afternoon at zoes eating far too much cheese and drinking wine and eating fresh baguettes and also drinking that lovely mint squash stuff they sell out here (syrope de menthe yummmmm) commiserating with poor dobby who is wearing a cone of shame having been neutered and basking in the French countryside in this most amazing weather!

Let's see what tomorrow brings, I understand it may be my friend Jean-Charles on his scooter and some Paris shenanigans but we shall see, either way it'll need to be something fun as after starts!! AAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH

Peace out


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