Le Retour

Well, loyal readers (hi mum!) I’m back from my hiatus. Since this is a travel blog, I didn’t see the point in writing over summer. Although, “travel blog” is definitely a misnomer since I largely write about France being mental or me getting into some sort of awkward mishap, bordering on slapstick comedy. Sadly, however, that’s not a blog genre. I digress. Let’s have a catch up. How’s the family? How did you get on with the prelims? Who ye winching? Excellent. For my part, I’ve moved to the very north of France to teach English to some bright eyed uni students hoping to master the language of…love the working world.

So, I arrived on Wednesday night after a long train journey which was nicely broken up in London by the most cockney cabbie I’ve met to date. I was mentally running through cockney slang for various amounts of money so that when he charged me half a pony or 1/40th of a monkey, I could confidently slip him the cash and maybe have enough cool to refer to him as “me awl china”.

Since arriving I have been mainly flat-hunting, to no avail. I posted an advert with a bit about myself to lure people into living with me. So far it’s resulted in the following emails “I’m interested in learning English. Could you give me lessons?”, “you’re really cute, could I take you out sometime?” and the puzzling “can you cook?”.

Last night we sat in and had a few drinks then decided to head to a gig at a converted train station. Naturally in France there are bikes next to all the metro stations that you can rent (it’s not even like a “let’s have a big PR stunt to combat childhood obesity and we’ll call it Cycle, You Fat Rides”, they actually just cycle for the craic). After walking for about a year to find a station that actually had some bikes I remembered that the last time I used a bike was to chase down the icey for a Choc Dip. However, I did what any Cycling Proficiency Graduate would have done and just played with the bell and realised that I still had a day left of my French health insurance…..for the next 26 hours, come at me cars!

Today was the first day of the braderie in Lille. Braderie roughly translates in English as “fucking enormous city-wide market, bringing 2 million visitors to a city of 1 million, where you can buy everything from antiques to 6ft statues of The Hulk to lamps made of syringes”. It was great because nearly all the city centre is just a huge market and every stall is totally different. It provides a nice juxtaposition to have a German antiques dealer selling cabinets for a grand right next to tracky-clad teenagers lying on couches they’re selling, smoking shisha, all sountracked by the eternal cool of TLC belting out the ghetto blaster of the girl who’s making waffles across from them. Anyway, a picture paints a thousand words so here’s the best of the braderie…

Ohhh go on then, I did promise you some slapstick. Today on the metro the doors shut and caught my hair in it. Naturally, I decided I’d just ride it out and hope to fuck I didn’t fall over at any point since I’d have been scalped. So, I just casually lent back and adopted an incredibly carefree pose and looked around to see if anyone had noticed I was unwillingly attached to the door. When we got to the next stop I was released from my unconventional prison and stepped forward when the doors opened. However, we sat at that stop for a few minutes and I realised that I’d unwittingly leant back again and was in fact once again trapped and at risk of a good scalping. At the stop after that I just went and sat down. In shame.

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