Friday, 7 October 2011

c'est une vie pleine de mystère; it's a life full of mystery. Cheers rich :)

So it's been a good week so far! Especially now I have treated myself to a navigo which is the parisian oyster card basically!

This time last year the oyster card was quite exciting as it was a sign I was somewhere new (made me feel like a proper Londoner haha) but this the navigo...well I got a pass to the city of Paris now that is like a dream come true! I have survived the last month without one and it's not top of my list of expenditures really but now I've got it it's super useful!

Anyway let's look back to the weekend! I was doing my house/dog/chicken/children sitting and the Friday night was sans children so it was a chilled affair

Do they look relaxed to you?

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and then I collected the boys from their 'tata's' down the road on the Saturday afternoon. I had to go to the bank so I went via the centre of Esbly as I needed to collect my 'carte bleu' (debit card) from the bank. There's no posting cards here. As I stood outside the bank I had an epiphany...oh crap I'm on my own, I don't speak much French and I have to go in to the bank where i know they speak no english and ask them for my bank card. Well it's got to be done so I stood outside going over and over in my head what i needed to roughly say (from my limited French vocabulary) strolled in, apologised in French that my French wasn't very good, told them I had recently opened an account and was there to collect my carte bleu. Then waited for the 'huh?' look I often get.

The assistant said "d'accord" went to her draw, fetched my card and some forms, told me what I needed to sign and where (all in French and I got it all right; go me!!!) and c'est ca! I now have a debit card, my first months wage slip and the money was in my account. Genial!

It was extremely hot so saturday with the boys was easy enough, we chilled at home and played in the garden with the dogs, watched a movie and then came the fun part... Bedtime. I sent them off to bed with a 'I will be doing lights out in 30 minutes'. Then headed back downstairs and stuck on the sky box and settled down to watch something a bit more in keeping with my age. Like friends. Good to see whilst I'm out the country E4 hasn't changed. Now it's worth noting at this point that France don't do sky, if you want sky in France you have to buy it through a company who will arrange for you to have it registered to some imaginary address in say Spain et voila, you have sky.

I could watch French tv but I wouldn't understand it and it was my relaxing Saturday night in. At this point I decided I wanted to make a drink so stood up to make my way to the kitchen. The fact the boys were quiet hadn't occurred to me and so i shouldnt have been suprised when i nearly tripped over two giggling bodies who were lying sas style on the floor by the door to the front room.

Guys go to Bed.......

So off they went banging up the stairs and then treading more softly whilst shouting "night Karen"

Now we have all been less than 10 years old, I wasn't buying it.

I counted to 30 and poked my head round the door... Sure enough my living draughts excluders had returned so I threatened to shave 5 minutes off lights out time and then packed them off for the night for good.

They were actually pretty good boys. It's quite an old house and over 4 levels so I could be forgiven for feeling a bit lost rattling round in it but it was nice, I don't scare easily.... That is until night 2 when the boys were home and one of them had a nightmare and came crashing down the stairs in the small hours of Sunday morning.

Honestly it was like a scene out of paranormal activity! With me sitting bolt upright in bed thinking "Jesus what the hell was that??!" (not terribly religious can you tell..)

No contact lenses in so i couldn't see a thing and could just hear this banging and crashing then make out this shape coming down the stairs...when I'd settled him back to sleep my heart returned to normal pace and I got another couple of hours.

Sunday morning I woke up quite early and was happily reading my book when I heard movement upstairs, ah boys are up! I went downstairs and sorted out the dogs, then went down the garden and sorted out the various aviaries of chicks, chickens and canaries. Then sorted out the finch room. Still no sign....

Then I had breakfast, switched the rugby on, did some lesson planning for next week, cleaned up... then decided they really ought to come down.

Thinking I had slept in (something parents don't do) I was greeted with:

"Karen we have been up AGES!!!"

"I know" I said.

Then proceeded to reel off the list of things I had done

"and now you guys are up so I'm going to do your breakfast!"

That quietened them pretty quickly! I knew what they had for breakfast so when they told me what mum normally makes them they were a bit stumped to see I had it out already. However of course I did it slightly different to her but it tasted okay... Kids :)

After breakfast we spent the day adventuring, following woodland trails around the canals

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before stopping for a picnic at Ponte bateau, playing on the fitness circuit and then heading home as the weather was incredibly hot!

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Slow coaches allez!

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Chins!!! Starting them young; Or just trying to knacker them out...

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Zoe and Thierry were back mid afternoon having had a lovely time and so the rest of the afternoon and evening was spent out on the terrace chatting, looking through their photos and eating. Perfect! The boys were really really good and I am happy to report I definitely knackered them out first and not vice versa ha! Plus they mostly want to know when I'm coming bak to look after them again. In response to an evening of 'oh mum and dad are home' misbehaviour Thierry threatened to go back to Amsterdam...apparently the threat didn't work as they said they'd be happy to have me back. Sorry guys :)

I headed home at dark to a message from Michelle telling me she was going to be coming back from the weekend at her boyfriends in Paris a day early so the rest of Sunday night was spent randomly gossiping with Michelle and watching Tangled. We are grown ups you know!

Monday arrived rapidly after the eventful weekend so monday heralded my return to a day of sport, English and drama. Monday passed pretty easily and drama went really well! The kids really listened and responded so well to the task I had set them. It's amazing how many things a piece of purple cloth can become with a little imagination, especially when the imagination belongs to an under 10 year old and you times it by the 12 I had in my class.

I was extremely excited about Monday evening though because I had a plan! Straight after work Michelle and I headed off to Chessy so I could get my navigo decouverte. The Parisian oyster card I mentioned earlier. These are actually easier to get than an oyster card as there are no forms to fill out. You buy the little pack they give you, stick your own photo on, seal it down et voila! My pass to the ile de france region is ready! It's always very exciting swiping something new for the first time so I swiped and we hopped on to the RER to Val d'Europe.

I look like a criminal:

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First stop... A phone! I'd like to take the credit for asking for it but Michelle was with me...mishy your French is awesome tell her I want one of those please :)

I have deliberately left the French settings on it too:

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So I now had my navigo carte, my telephone mobicarte and all that was left was to ignore the rows and rows of shops and take Michelle for her first trip to Auchan!

Oh this place is amazing and food shopping is always so much more exciting when you are abroad as it feels like you are on holiday. An hour later we came emerged from the shopping centre, but not before we'd discovered that you can get orange and lemon coke out here. I don't drink coke but new things are always interesting!

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Steak is massive, lovely and cheap!!

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And they sell honey with guarana in (well it interested me). Personally I'm still in love with the coffee bags. Like tea bags only for simple so genius. Don't even get me started on the fresh fruit and veg they sell EVERYTHING I don't even recognise half the veg!

Between us it came to next to nothing and the food we had was of the most amazing quality. The steak we had for dinner was possibly one of the best I have ever had, no fat, no gristle and a ridiculous size which is awesome considering it worked out at just over a Euro per steak!

So tuesday i decided another post work adventure was in order but obviously i had work to go through first... As always new day, new hilarity.

Now I have spent the last month covering the basics of athletics so now I'm combining the skills together more somewhat (1. This will help with co-ordination skills required for next term when it's ball sports! God help me...) 2. plus i'm preparing to pool all this together with a mini class Olympics the last week before they break up.

Anyway this week one of the things I have been covering is sprinting technique and relay races which is where the fun begins. I am getting a lot better at explaining the task at hand to the children, I also have enough of their respect in that they now listen to me!

So relay races went without a hitch the tiniest are getting great at lining up and all was good...until one of the little space cadets I mentioned in my last blog took his turn. All the children had to do when they received their baton was run a few meters to a cone, run round the cone, run back, pass the baton to the next person et voila. Easy yes? Oh no... Said slightly spaced out child took the baton, ran to the cone, so far so good... I was observing the rest of the line to make sure the child that had finished was going to the back and sitting down and not causing any problems en route when I suddenly noticed the volume of shouting had gone up.

I turned round to see this child standing over the cone, trying to poke the baton through the hole in the top of it. Mortified his team mates were desperately yelling for him to run back, the other team were in their element and now a child ahead in the race but still the little one was away with the fairies dancing round the cone and trying to fit the baton in to the top of it.

When he FINALLY looked up the other children stopped shouting and stood there mouths agog as he suddenly started making motor car noises and SLOWLY started driving the baton back to the line holding it out in front of him like a steering wheel and going 'vroom vrooom' No one made a sound his team mates just stood there mouths open in disbelief.

I couldn't even look at the head mistress she was crying with laughter as much as I was.

I spend so much of my day laughing I fear the only way this job will age me will be some serious laughter lines. I also finally decided that i could divulge one of the conversations we had in the English room one lunchtime because it was clean enough... The jokes we tell though will never be aired on here ;)

So picture the scene, sat at our little desks marking work and planning lessons sat on our tiny primary school children chairs when suddenly Chris the head of English randomly pipes up:

Chris: what do you call a group of beavers
Me: a good time?
Chris: nooooo im sure it's something funny look it up!

---- quick google search ----

Me: a colony
Chris: oh maybe it's otters, what do you call a group of otters?
Me: not such a good time?
Chris: no look it up!!!

---- quick google search ----


Its true!!! I think they heard us laughing in Spain.

I was glad for the laugh Tuesday as there are things on the sidelines in my life which hurt me deeply at times and make some of the moments out here not so fun BUT whatever the outcome these things are only for now and if you want to read a depressing blog go on an emo site.

Why am I refusing to acknowledge the sad bits? Because whilst they may play on my mind for a good 18 of the 24 hours in a day I'm alive (and awake) they are about as massive as the time it takes in a day to brush my teeth. Recently for example I received a message that hurt me so badly someone may have walked up and stabbed me directly through the heart. I took a deep breath after all I have a job to do and you are never fully dressed without a smile then went to the canteen for lunch duty. I was sat staring at the table trying to muster the energy to get me through the afternoon and giving myself a severe talking to when two little girls from the older class came skipping over and presented me with this:

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Giggling they said

"karrrrren eets fur you fee clochette! (tinkerbell in French) aaand we peeeeked deeese fur you"

I bent down to receive them and they both kissed me on the cheek then went back giggling to their seats.

I didn't know what to say.

But how can I consider being sad about ANYTHING!

The next day more pressies followed.

A random collection of hearts and a purple testicle in a granny wig. (it's not it's actually a balloon filled with sand with wool stuck on it. Nope I have no idea either but it's the thought that counts!)

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I'm lying it's actually a stress ball, which funnily enough is made by one of the children who has the attention span of a gnat when in class which frustrates me no end!

So Tuesday I decided post work there would be more adventuring and armed with my carte bleu, phone and navigo I was going to brave the hairdressers...the hairdressers decided they weren't going to brave me though and said I'd have to return in the morning (boo hiss) which meant instead whilst waiting for my next bus home I killed time in the Disney village. Having to battle pirates and princesses to browse around your local shop is hilarious. It has to be said! All the beautiful Christmas stuff is now present in the Disney shops so I ambled round with mixed feelings as I was on my own

I wish to god I had someone with me to be the voice of reason before this carte bleu gets used...

I feel like I'm cheating on my parents and Michelle

Um wished you were there guys :)

Now despite being told to return to the hairdressers on this evening I hiked over to Val for nada so decided to go back first thing in the morning. I was feeling brave. Wednesday I got up and headed back to Val d'europe to see if I couldn't get these hideous roots sorted out!

Now i gathered they weren't the friendliest salon ever and noooo English was spoken but I tried...

"parlez-vous Anglais?"
"non" (definitely no smile)
"ah d'accord, pardon...." I had gone over and over this in my head... "um (same in all languages) Est ce que je peut avoir un appointment aujord hui?"
"oui" still no smile
"genial! (so here we go, explanation time) Je besoin ma racines (furiously pointing at my roots, here it is worth noting that the french word for roots le 'racines' is pronounced the same as le 'raisins which is french for 'grapes' same word different spellings/meanings oh god I'm never going to get this language) ....comme ca!

At this point the photo of me with my hair from the last time it was just done got produced and I furiously pointed at that.

You wouldn't have to be able to speak at all to get that I was gesticulating wildly at the variants in colour on my poor abused hair.

Yes I want my roots like this photo (comme ca!!!) and my cheveux, blonde, le raisin..le meme chose... They should be the same!!!!!

I think she understood.

Now i have been warned about hairdressers over here. My first panic came when she sat me down and applied this slightly brown in colour paste to it. In England bleach is purple... I'd discovered the lady in the chair next to me spoke English, she had started chatting to me in french and then was excited to learn I was English so she told me I was really pretty, looked like tinker bell and could she practise her English on me. Love for those compliments you can say what you like! So I used English lady to check what on earth they were doing and all was ok. For now.

When it came time to wash the bleach off I was not convinced...they hadn't used much and it took about 10 minutes to apply it whereas in the UK it took at least 30 mins they were really careful and here I was watching my roots going orange not yellow.

Sure enough when they washed my hair off I noticed a small crowd of hairdressers gathering round me and whispering "trop jeune, trop jeune!!"

Eventually I turned round and spoke to them in French just to let them know I could understand what they were saying! Basically they were reaming out because my hair had gone too yellow.

Now I'm not a hairdresser but after 2 years of this haircut even I know BLEACH DOES THAT!!! it doesn't make it platinum that's what toner is for. Who is the hairdresser here??!! Then they explained they'd have to use something on it to take the yellow out...

Yes I know that's what I asked for when I came in here!!! Honestly, right now I had visions of losing all my hair. Sure enough they bought another bottle out and I recognised the familiar smell of toner. Normally couple of minutes of toner, it gets washed off... Job done.

10 minutes later I'm still sat there. If you leave toner on too long it is basically a blue rinse so I glance around to see where my hairdresser has gone...she is stood outside having a fag and playing on the phone! I know she's having a fag because right by the door which is wide open and she is blowing smoke all over me, they do this out here, they smoke and they smoke all over you!!! At this point I start wondering which was the lesser of two evils blue roots or yellow roots?

Even the washing of my hair was an experience, she tried to ask me a question, however I couldn't hear her she had literally filled my ears with water!

Somehow when the ordeal was over it actually turned out fine and cost me at least £40 less than it would have done in the UK! This replaced the horror I had endured and the only reminder of the experience was the squelch of water as I inserted my earphones back in to my ears.

I had a couple of hours at school in the afternoon as was running a dance workshop (boys v girls and I had the boys...) SOMEHOW in 40 mins I had them doing an entire routine to 'shake your tail feather' the boys love a bit of twisting apparently! Even the teaching assistants wanted to know how I'd managed it, how did I tame the boys into a routine?! They were actually quite well behaved, only a bit of slapping and shouting...that was just me ;)

Job done I then flew out of school, onto the bus and off to my next jaunt....dinner with friends in Paris!!!

So this was my first jaunt out to Paris with my navigo... So an hour after I left school I emerged at Anvers underneath the sacre couer. I could not stop smiling as I text my mum to say

"hi mum texting you from my new French phone whilst strolling up the butte of Montmartre to meet friends on the steps of the sacre couer. I like this life I think I'll keep it".

I couldn't not smile to myself as this place has possibly one of my favourite views of Paris and all I had to do to experience it, was leave work. That is almost too amazing for me to comprehend still.

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I also had time for a quick wander round the sacre coeur. Now you aren't supposed to take photos but here is a peak of the ceiling. I personally find the basilica far more beautiful than notre dame

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It felt very romantic to meet on the steps and It was so good to see old friends from Devon here, familiar faces in a new country and we had a fantastic evening. We had dinner at the place du tertre, shared a small caraf of red and just laughed and before we knew it we were at the gare de l'est and it was time to say goodbye, we joked about no teary partings but I was in too high spirits to be sad and I couldn't not smile on the train all the way home. Which is where I wound up 30 minutes later. Too perfect.

Okay so that has pretty much been my week. It has now been almost a fortnight of full teaching days and I am starting to feel it, I am definitely tired but the mornings are darker and also today was very overcast and by god did it rain which scuppered my lesson plans somewhat:

Throwing it down was an understatement:

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So it was an impromptu indoor session instead which involved an obstacle course using gym equipment which proved to Be a big hit!

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My afternoon was apparently decidedly better than my colleagues however who had the tinies for art. We blame the asparagus served at lunch but in the end a window was opened in the classroom on account of the children being extremely full of hot air for the lesson. By the end of the day after 'windy gate' as we shall call it and me having them sweat it up with 45 minutes of dance (today I would mostly like to thank MJ as we are working on a routine to Thriller) in the same room. Chris declared the room was not smelling its best So I shall not look forward to that tomorrow morning!

I also have a good friend arriving for the weekend so I better get my washing etc done and think about next weeks lessons that way it's no concern over the weekend. I'm a little later to sit down tonight than normal because Michelle and I arrived home to find our landlady had laid out the table and made us a cottage pie with tiramisu to follow! Table all laid it was very civilised, we laughed as she produced a bottle of wine from the fridge which she said she hoped we would enjoy and when we looked it was actually a particular brand which we have bought previously from the local shop.

I laughed and commented on this only for Anne to say 'yes I asked the guy in the shop and he said is it for 2 English girls one blonde, one brunette? Ah they have that one...'

I'm pretty sure it's only been twice in 4 weeks!!!!! Ah the embarrassment.

Anyway so I'm getting ready for my partner in crimes imminent arrival tomorrow afternoon, not going to lie I'm very excited about this, for one this dude is always there for me so he deserves to come out here and find me in a. Good mood as mostly I have just moped on him for the last few months and also he is my first official visitor to this country. I love Paris and I love to share it! also on the Saturday night I had out with the guys the other week I felt so happy and so alive and I'm definitely keen for another weekend of that. To just abandon the iPhone at home and! Oh and Of course see where the weekend/night takes me.

One must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower as Hans Christian Anderson said. Or actually to quote a rather lovely new guy I have met:

"Chin up my dear noob parisienne, c'est une vie pleine de mystère, de challenge, de bonheur et de beauté si seulement on peut prendre le temps de l'en croire, et d'avoir du foi en nous-mêmes....."

Beautiful :)

Anyway a girly night in awaits, i have just heard michelle say in passing she has been propositioned with an english teaching job which is fine... But she has been told that the guy is 'retarded' (im sure that words been and gone...) but as he is difficult she has permission to be strict, fine. If he is out of order she has permission to discipline him; fine. If he is really out of order she has permission to humiliate him (at this point she is thinkig errrm what?) and apparently if he is REALLY out of order she can beat him!!! I need to hear more...

So there's a mishy moo, a Sasha and a glass of rosé plus season 1 of scrubs on DVD with french subtitles awaiting me and if I stand on my tip toes I can see the weekend from here!

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Bon weekend tout le monde xxx

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