Friday, April 29, 2011

Princesses and jewels

Never felt so girly in my life as this morning watching The Wedding. Instead of being cynical I just ooohed and ahhed with the others in the Big Ben pub in Neuilly where I went with the girls (plus one kid in his buggy, don't tell the parents). She did look lovely and really happy and so did he and maybe there's a happy ending and a prince for all of us! One with more hair if possible, please.

Despite being told by the American (old) man in the pub that I am a princess, I still don't think my wedding will be a French affair. (See Left Bank Manc's blog for an idea of why.)

I've been here 7 months, that's a bit mad. Only 4 left.

Big dinner party tonight, getting completely British-ed up, I have made myself a crown. There have obviously not been enough outlets for my creativity recently, I got really enthused by the idea, ripped up my cardboard recycling and an Elle magazine and voila, some royal headwear. I'll get the photos up afterwards, they're guaranteed to be funny. Just wait.

Yes I'm procrastinating. Came to the pub to use their WIFI to do more of my TEFL course, but there's music on and people about and the wedding on repeat...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More paintings.

Still Life - after cakes at Le Loir dans La Theiere
A flashback to art-school days, I do like painting horses.

Violent Rage

I have officially finished work for the night, the mum is at home but in bed sick, so as soon as I had put the boys to bed I could go home. Unfortunately I have stuff to do, which means I need the internet, so I'm still 'at work' sitting on my laptop in the living room. The boys are awake and acting like evil brats, and finding it hilarious past belief that because I'm still here it's me they get to annoy rather than their parents, who actually hold some sway over them. I really don't want their mum to have to come downstairs and shout at them, as she's ill and has a really sore throat, but I have things to do and I might have a heart attack if I stay here much longer trying to suppress the violent rage within me. Or kill a child.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sunstroke or something

I've been up since 5.30 this morning, worked the morning and evening shifts, and had no nap yet I'm still fairly awake and it's 11.30pm, and I've offered to take the boys on an all-day-adventure tomorrow, when I'll have them from 9am to god-knows-when, the elusive 'end of babysitting' hour. I blame the sun- it makes everything seem so lovely and I get optimistic, thinking maybe the boys will listen to my desperate screeching and actually stop running (heads down, full speed, downhill) before they crash onto the road at a Red Man. Maybe when I tell them to get out of the bath they'll just stand up and do it, instead of spitting the bathwater they'd been holding in all over my legs and then jumping on me so I'm soaked, furious and unable to get up off the bathroom floor. Maybe, they'll hold back from calling me 'miss caca' in public, loudly. At home at least I can pretend it's affectionate...

For a few happy minutes we all thought the little one had missed me after being away for 2 weeks of hardcore skiing, but it turned out he just said it wrong. 'She missed me' ('but I didn't miss her'), is what he was trying to say, but because of my excellent teaching skills he knew how to say it in English but confused it in French.

Again, I'll blame the amount of sunshine I've sat in today, but I did have a momentary 'oooh he's very cute, maybe it would be nice to have children some day' moment, which was a shock to be honest. Thought all this au-pairing had put me off for good. Please note this does NOT mean I'm open to conversations like the one Helen tried to start the other day on Skype, slipping in "so how old do you want to be when you start having kids?" into a perfectly lovely stress-free catch up. NO NEED!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Here goes...

 Seeing as I'm here to paint, as well as work and have fun, I thought it would be good for my motivation to put some of it in a public place, and hopefully shame myself into doing more, better work! (even if no-one sees it up here either!)


Paint what you see... there's not much to see inside my flat, so I look outside... 
Still find all the rooftops and chimneys a bit romantic.

My kitchen:

(Images are copyright; don't nick them without asking)

Thursday, April 14, 2011


The problem with not having the internet at home is that when you suddenly find yourself in the well-connected 21st century you get a bit over-excited. I do, anway. Hotmail, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, streaming websites for (Glee, Gossip Girl, Ugly Betty) Couchsurfing, Spotify, jobsearch websites, the BBC, friends' blogs, strangers' blogs, brother's new music, old photos... and still never quite getting round to -shudder- online banking.
I ws meant to be studying.
To my credit, I have finished Section One in Grammar. (woop!) But in the part where they teach you how to teach all the grammar you've learned, I've got stuck. They seem to think it's necessary to learn (and presumably teach) the phonemic alphabet. And what is it? Gobbledegook.

ˈɡɒb ə ldɪˌɡuːk

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rosé tinted weekending

I loved Paris at the weekend, properly loved it.

I spent Saturday at the Parc des Buttes Chaumont having a feast of a picnic with the usual girls and a few new additions, letting the day pass by so fast I was, as usual, late to meet Gael that evening across the other side of the city. Luckily for me, the shop he wanted to show me wasn't where it should have been- I guess it's closed down or moved- because we'd have been too late to catch it open anyway. I really need to get better at punctuality- it tends to get worse the better I get to know someone, which is a bit unfair isn't it, old friends have to wait hours... Anyway I went with Gael to his friend Pierre's housewarming party in a blooming amazing flat in the 6th, 65 square metres compared to my 5, and it's his! (/His parents'.) His friends were taller than I remembered, which was lovely, and I overcame the usual I-don't-speak-French shyness to speak to Pierre, Yves and taller Yves for a bit, and even left at a very reasonable hour. To be fair I had been lying in the boiling sun all day and had had a few beers already, so midnight was late enough for me.

Then Sunday carried on in the same way- this time outside the Louvre. A very relaxing time sunbathing and drawing got gradually more lively, with cartwheels, crisps and wine, Macdo's, more wine and general hilarity that ended down beside the sparkly river- we'd given up on being in Neuilly for 'supper' at Clare's much earlier. But again, start early; finish early: home by 11pm!

It was a weekend that would make anybody want to stay in Paris. But I'm still not sure. Spain seems to be calling- I almost swooned when the Colombian 'manny' spoke to me in Spanish in the park- but is it just nostalgia for last summer? (Male nanny, apparently. It just makes me picture Bill Bailey in Black Books, but my new park friend is more attractive than that.)

After such a lazy indulgent weekend I thought RIGHT, I shall get stuck into this TEFL course, in one week off I can get through a lot of those 125 hours that I have 73 more days to complete... But it's kind of boring. I know about nouns, and verbs, and pronouns even, but I'll be damned if anyone knows the difference between 'present perfect continuous' and, emm, another one. So I'm struggling slightly. To reiterate what I said in another post- I'm sure I used to be good at this, grammar and that. Will I get progressively worse the longer I stay abroad? I'd rather not become incompetent in English, it's all I can (could) do in the first place.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Les Vacances!!

When you know that 'bedtime' signals the start of a week of holidays, bedtime takes a blooming long time to come. Suddenly 8.30pm seems very late for a 6 year old; he looks tired, maybe he should go earlier...and 2 minutes is just extravagant for tooth brushing, that's enough, come on now... But it did finally arrive, and I whooped off to Republique for dinner with the girls; should have had the burger, but I don't even mind as I am so buoyed by the thought of child-free days and nights, and- probably- the wine.

As long as the weather keeps its promise and the sun bakes down over the weekend, I plan to picnic, and not very much else. On Monday I will hunker down and work on my TEFL course (rain is forecast), paint, and perhaps even play my cello. And cook! In a real kitchen, with normal sized pans and more than one hob (My host family are holidaying: I'll have the run of their flat). I shall feel like a queen in a castle. Maybe. Maybe I'll become the opposite of claustrophobic and want to come back here and hide in my 5 square metres of turpentine-infused comfort.

Either way, no work for a week can't be bad.

Monday, April 4, 2011

OSS 117

My 'french teacher' Gael  has filled up my hard-drive with some essential viewing, to add to my Hitchcock collection and introduce me to French film. I watched the first last night, 'OSS 117', absolutely hilarious! Like 007, but more ridiculous, and French. Missed a fair few of the jokes obviously, and couldn't tell you what they were saying 100% of the time, but understood or not I thought it was great!

And hopefully I'm going to see Eddie Izzard doing his show in French, which will undoubtedly be past my level of French, but funny. Wouldn't have had a clue he was doing it if he hadn't walked past me yesterday! First celebrity spot in Paris: I had just come out of a really cool bar in Montmartre and he walked up the street. Gael had no idea who I was talking about/staring at/resisting the urge to run up to so I couldn't be sure, but through the joys of socially acceptable stalking via Twitter I confirmed I was right!

The bar was 'Marlusse et Lapin', and it was like a little cottage; a normal enough bar at the front but go through to the back room and you're in a wallpapered bedroom, with a bed (cushions down the middle to make it 2 sofas), old-fashioned phone, dressing table, and a wardrobe housing the sound system. And a sewing machine table! Apparently they show films too, at the request of customers.
Another new one for me, also in Montmartre- Bluenote, a packed little Brazilian bar, where we danced away the hours of Sunday morning with some extremely sweaty and fairly hairy regulars!

Tonight family arrives: Christopher, Moira and Gran are coming for just two nights and a day, so I have been clearing a space hopefully large enough for us all to at least stand in my studio at once, and trying to work out how to fit lovely Paris into one long day. I predict lots of coffee stops!

The first really hot day of the year was Saturday- working 9am-8pm at the weekend had never been so much fun as making pizza and biscuits for a picnic in the park, followed by an ice cream outside the Pantheon.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, with wobbly bridge, fake rocks and 'Roman Temple'; lovely for a picnic, even if it was on a less sunny day!