Monday, July 25, 2011

Excuses, excuses...

I make excuses all the time. Some of the time they're harmless little lies, "oh sorry I can't talk just now my tea's ready and I have to go to work"... But a lot of the time they're completely honest real reasons, not even excuses, mostly involving money and not having enough of it.

Talking to Claire and Laura the other day made me notice that we talk about money a lot. It's not because we're all money-hungry capitalists who don't want anything else- the opposite really.
We've taken badly or barely-paid jobs for the benefits of living in a foreign land, lunching on cheese, and drinking by the Seine or the sea, living in the 'city of light'. (Or in a shared caravan, which I reckon is less of a benefit than a daily struggle.) The thing is, I bet when you have enough money for everyday living you don't talk about it as much- you'll be spending the time we use talking about money just spending it.

I'm passing up an evening at the pub and a half pint for 3.50; therefore I talk about that 3 euros and fifty cents that I've just saved; I make comparisons between various possibilities for that money, (3 bottles of fresh milk would leave me with 29 cents, which I could then add to my collection of centimes for the stamp machine) and thus convince myself that I'm much better off sitting in, on my own, drinking tea with disgusting UHT milk. As I'm leaving tomorrow evening and it's only sold here in massive bottles, I cannot justify buying the milk I've just saved up for. I'll appreciate it when I get back though.

No-one's even asking me for excuses today, as I have no friends to invite me to do anything. Woe is me. It's just that I feel guilty for sitting in my studio all day, eating chocolate digestives (I didn't buy them- they were a luxury gift!!) pretending to pack, half-heartedly taking postcards off the walls, when Paris is outside. But I'll say it again- Paris is blooming expensive!!

For goodness sake, I'm writing to myself about making excuses to myself about doing nothing. Sorry everyone, this is boring.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Must blog more regularly. This is a biggie.

I've not been very good at keeping this blog up to date, or particularly informative or relevant.
So here's a last-ditch attempt! Over my last weeks I'll try my best. Mainly because I now only have one friend in Paris (the lovely Claire) and she works blooming hard, so I'll have a fair bit of free time.

Over the past weeks there have been lots of fun times, but tinged with sad goodbyes and promises to meet up again soon. Clare was the first, which seems so long ago aready. Then Laura left, after one of the funniest and funnest nights Paris can ever have seen. I'm not even going to attempt to describe it.

Then it was Kayt, who we sent off with wine at Chez Prune, 'champagne' on the banks of the canal, bubbles, a rose each, hilarity and Irish men at the Irish bar who really just wanted to close up, then a final bottle at Les Parigots. It didn't end there- we got the night bus back to Neuilly, had an hour to sleep then got up to tearfully wave her away on the airport bus.

Les Parigots is really nice- earlier in the week me, Amy and Kayt had an excellent impromptu lunch there after suitcase shopping. Salad and wine felt so civilised in the sunshine, even if it was a girl who served us instead of the man-gods that usually do.

My last week with Amy and Tabs consisted of watching the top half of Bastille Day fireworks from Pont des Artes, some great home-cooking, flicking through old photos and postcards and vintage clothes at the flea market, a trip to Neuilly pool to enjoy a bit of rare July sunshine, tea and pastries at mine, a final outing to Favela Chic and Wos, where we found the crowd a bit unappreciative... and a morning bowl of hot chocolate with croissants to dip in up in Montmartre.

Elle's next, and though she's still in Paris until tomorrow we said bye yesterday morning after spending the previous day at the Musee de l'Orangerie, getting caught in the rain, drinking tea and eating eclairs at mine, and meeting up again in the evening for a nice bottle of wine. It should have included a meal out too, but instead I made myself pasta. All these farewell outings have done nothing good for my bank account.

I have just had a lovely coffee, again chez moi, with Claire, who brought chocolate digestives and creme eggs, which has brightened up my week considerably. I've been spending a lot of time applying for jobs in Madrid, flat-hunting, and tidying/packing/procrastinating. I have a 'to do' list that's 4 lines short of an A4 page. I've packed my rucksack to take home on Tuesday, and yet my flat looks as full as ever.

He'll find me soon and propose, I'm sure.

I'm realising just how forgetful I've been as I search through photos to upload- I haven't mentioned I watched the women's semi finals at Roland Garros where we also got to see Rafael Nadal warm up from only about 10 metres away. It was a fantastic day, boiling hot, and I'm almost completely sure I spotted Anna Wintour!

Oscar Wilde

Or that me and Laura went to Pere Lachaise and wandered in search of Modigliani, Oscar Wilde, Delacroix, Edith Piaf, Chopin, Max Ernst, Corot, Caillebotte, Gericault, and of course Jim Morrison.

We also went for a glass of wine at a cafe in Montmartre and got charged 9 euro each for the priviledge. Ouch.

We also had macaroons at the beautiful Parc Monceau, and did a bit of a literary tour around the 5eme, and saw where Hemmingway, James Joyce, George Orwell and others used to live and write.
Parc Monceau

Paris has been full of delights.

All the same, I can't wait to eat fish and chips in Scotland next week. I will be rewarding myself with food for being such a good au pair and taking the child 'on holiday' for a week. Quite looking forward to going back to Dynamic Earth too if I'm honest, and Harestanes. Oh to be 6 and a half again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So long, farewell...

I hate goodbyes.
I'm such a cryer that to say bye in public places I have to become completely cold and unfeeling, 'right ok, yeah see you later, keep in touch!' is about as much as I can manage.
As soon as it gets anywhere near 'I'll miss you' I'm a mess.

The Neuilly crew has disbanded. (RG4eva)
The number of friends I have in Paris is now down to two.
Honest it was more, they've just all left.

Friday, July 15, 2011

25 and a half...

is the number of days I have left to spend in Paris, broken up by 7 and a half in Scotland, before the 18th of August. I finally booked my transport home after days spent trawling through the internet. I don't ask to be a millionaire or anything like that, but it would be nice to be able to just book a taxi to the airport then a flight for me and all my stuff, directly to where I want to go.
As it is, I have to leave/give away/somehow shrink as much stuff as possible, then drag the rest on the RER to the station ON MY OWN because my friends here are all so selfish and will have left by the time I go, selfish... And of course I've got the cello as well. Haven't told him yet but I'm employing my brother as porter to get me off eurostar and onto the train north, otherwise I don't think I'll make it.

Everyone's leaving and I don't like it. Not one bit. The only good thing about leaving amazing friends is that you end up with lots of places to go on holiday, and that's how I'm going to console myself. If I had any money at all I'd go to Saint Tropez; but the train to Newcastle's cheaper. Kayt 1, Laura 0.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I Caved In.

Succumbed, gave up, crumbled. I bought something from the British Aisle in the shop after 9 months of managing to not buy Worcester sauce and Dairy Milk for a fiver. And what broke me? Ginger Nuts. They are so good though!

Then because he slipped up and said it was the English food bit, I gave a lesson on flags, The United Kingdom versus Great Britain, Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, etc, to the four year old. He will be the best educated French person I know when I'm done, except on the Welsh flag, which I shamefully don't know how to draw. Even after so much Gavin and Stacey.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I just had a 45 minute walk with the potential (but not really) new au pair.

'Not really', because I already knew she wasn't getting the job, and it turns out she doesn't want it anyway. Their reasons for not wanting her: she's too nice for our kids, she told us our books were bad, she's very big on God and morals and stuff. Her reasons: she frowns upon reading in English at bedtime and would "have to change that" -going for candles and one of her stories instead, the general not-listening attitude of the boys (I can't tell a lie, I told her they never listen) but mainly she talked about ironing.

Ironing. She doesn't want to lower her standards of living to what they would be in mon petit studio, and she got quite emphatic at this point- Let me first say that you look very nice, I don't mean that you don't look very nice, but me I cannot live somewhere I cannot iron, and where would I put my clothes? (At least the clothes rail is accessible love- try Amy's climb-on-the-desk-to-reach-it cupboard, now sadly empty.) I told her I just hang them up after the wash and that I've gone for a 'non-iron chic' look for my year in Paris, but it isn't for her, apparently. And when I mentioned it was baltic all winter well that was it, she can't do it, she'd get sick. She has a point here, I have been ill in this flat a lot. But mainly what came across from our awkward chat? Fruitcake. (As in she is a.) She carried around a little Tupperware box with cold toast and lemon curd. Yes I had one, but I was really hungry.

I forgot to mention, this au pair is a 50 year old woman rather than your bog standard early twenties girl like the rest of us, which surely begs the question WHY are you applying for this job? You can do better!!! Surely.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Living the dream?

Just walked home right across the front of Notre Dame at 2am. Could have been in a film.
Actually walked through a film set last weekend, just down from the steps where magic happens at midnight in the new Woody Allen one- how I wanted Hemmingway to come and pick me up in a carriage. Just to add to an already surreal night.

(I only went out to use the wifi at Wos, and ended up crashing a birthday party with someone I'd just met through chatting to her grandad who tried to set me up with his grandson, a star American football player.)

But then maybe that's all it is- just pictures.
'Picture' living in Paris, New York, London... you'd think of striking scenes, with streetlamps, rivers, iconic public transport and famous monuments, and anything that happens against the backdrop automatically looks good; romantic, melancholy, dramatic, beautiful, whatever. And it feels it too, thinking you're in a film all day and night long can get to your head. I wear headscarves much more freely than I did at home.
Life imitates chic Parisen movies.
If you filmed anyone's life in the right lighting it could be worth watching, so filming mine right now would make people jealous, if you left out the terrible work parts. It's funny how you adjust. It'd make me jealous if I wasn't living it. That's strange, because I'm leaving it.

Climbing my 71 steps this came to me in a much more eloquent way than it's coming out now, by the way.

I haven't done my list of best places in Paris recently, but it's basically been decided.

Les Parigots for tea, amazing burgers.
Le Comptoir Generale for drinks in the coolest place. Alternative wedding venue.
Favela Chic for dancing on benches.
Wos Bar for the staff and general fun.
Le Relais Gascon for giant salads with lots of meat and potatoes.
Le Mosquee for mint tea, it fixes everything.
Marlusse et Lapin for drinks in a bedroom and to see them serve absinthe properly.

I'll add that the the first 3 are also the places I've seen the most gorgeous men of my life, mostly working behind the bars. Just so you know where to go.