I’m not sure when this blog entry will see the light of day since as I type this, I’m sitting in my lovely new digs which come equipped with a pool but sadly not wifi. I’m writing this on Sunday, a day which in France has been traditionally reserved for doing nothing. Such is the French dedication to helping you in your quest to do nothing, they close everything so that you’re not tempted to partake in arduous tasks like buying a pint of milk or going to see a film. Perhaps, should you suffer a heart-attack from the foie-gras-cheese-bacon-and-butter-pastry dish you just ate as a light snack, the hospital might refuse to treat you since it’s a Sunday. I digress. Today was used to clean the house from top to bottom and discovering how seemingly simple machines work here. I can now work the washing machine, despite having to wait four hours for the spin to complete, and I can get the oven to go by hitting an apparently random combination of buttons….hurrah!
Arrived on Thursday after a fairly uneventful journey and met Ava and my new flatmate Lisa at the train station. We had roughly 345 pieces of luggage between us so got a taxi up to the house to meet the lady who was letting us in the house. Since we had arranged to meet at the house at 6pm, I became very concerned when at 6:35pm she still had not appeared and had visions of us sleeping in hostels till we could find another flat – one that might not even be ridiculously quaint – la honte! Checked my emails at this point and realised our arrangement had been to meet at the house which backs on to ours, which is where the owner lives. Settled in nicely to our new digs and went out for a nice meal which was literally a pot of melted cheese, cream, bacon, potatoes and with mini baked goats cheese on top……we’re bel et bien in France now! On the walk home from the resto I heard the familiar baseline of Rapper’s Delight, coming from under the bridge below us. Naturally, we assumed it would be folk listening to music and having a swally (which is Scotland should be avoided but in France it’s safe and even enjoyable to join in). We took a wander down and found my new favourite bar. It’s so beautiful, its right next to the river banks and it’s this outdoor restaurant/bar with a load of tables and a dance floor and there’s massive willow trees with fairy lights through them. It was such a novelty to have a nice warm night and be able to dance outside. It was a hiphop night which meant no end of breakdancing (including from some 9 year olds up way past their bedtime) and there was even a man walking about with a brightly coloured plastic shotgun slung over his shoulder. Apparently it’s only open over summer, until the end of September, which is a shame, as I know a certain fairy-light enthusiast who would love to see the willow trees!
French admin has reared its ugly head once more. Thankfully since I already have a medical card and a social security number I’ve been spared the to-and-froing of staff losing birth certificates then deciding you need 18 photocopies of your passport, proof of address and the ability to do all the different voices in Bohemian Rhapsody before you qualify for a card. I do however need to set up a bank account and without that I can’t do anything, I can’t sign my contract, at work get a phone or get internet. I made an appointment the other day, a week in advance, and that was the first one they could give me. It’s frustrating because if I can’t sign my contracts and provide the uni with a bank account quickly enough, I only get 70% of my pay the first month and then get the rest the next month. But if worst comes to worst, I’ll go and live under the bridge with the bar and drink the dregs of folk’s beers for sustenance.
The people here seem really friendly, which is a welcome surprise. Last year, being in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, everyone was so lovely but the north is famous for being really cheery and welcoming so was a bit concerned that everyone here would have more of a Parisian get-the-fuck-out-of-my-way-I’m-far-too-busy-sitting-outside-smoking,-to-tell-you-where-the-train-station-is attitude.
I’ve been a wee wander and the area is very quaint, more than half the houses in my street have turrets and are all covered in ivy. I even saw a horse and cart coming through the street behind ours yesterday, which I joked might be the bus. Hilariously, as it passed, we realised the bus company logo was printed on the side of the cart and that yes, as well as normal buses, during July & August, you can get a horse and cart which follows the normal bus route. Tres fucking quaint!