Friday, March 23, 2007

Only the French…(part 3)

…would send you two forms to fill in in separate email attachments, which subsequently turn out to be word for word IDENTICAL except for the header that tells you where to send it. They could have just left the header off and told us in the email to send it to both places. Sigh.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


From time to time we all get strange new urges. Mylène's cabaret urge being an extreme example. And years out/abroad are prime urge time, as they get us out of our bubble, broaden our horizons, introduce us to new people, places and ideas, and make us rethink who we are, who we want to be, where, why and how. None of that is new, but sometimes those urges take us rather by surprise. Just like my craving for chicken nuggets did when I was in Italy.
This year has been no exception, I've had plenty of new urges this year. Like wanting to work in a flower shop, or suddenly feeling the need to make scones. Here are two of the urges I've had this last week:
•An urge to cook stuffed courgettes. I had never made such things before, but I saw round courgettes on the market and decided to experiment. It was good! Definitely repeatable.
•Today I saw a small ad for short courses in professional make-up. Surprisingly, for some unknown reason this seriously appealed! Perhaps I am almost as crazy as Mylène after all.

…more to come soon I'm sure!

The countdown

I have four weeks of teaching left. Two pre-holiday, two post-holiday. This means several things.

1. The Good
•I will no longer have to worry about what to talk about with my next class of unimaginative students. Already, I have vague plans for all my remaining lessons, which means more free time and less panic.
•I will no longer have to take the metro at 7.30 am to get to school by 8, in fact I only need to do this eight more times.
•I will have completed my obligatory time abroad and will therefore be "free" to go home/elsewhere as and when I wish, although in reality I shall be staying in Lyon another two months or so.
•I can do more new things (including, perhaps, some travelling around France), and actually get on with my dissertation (this will be a Very Good Thing).
•In only two months I will return to the land of friends, family, short skirts and common sense.

2. The Bad
•Several of my friends will disappear off home/to other exciting places.
•I will no longer be paid a salary
•I will no longer have any excuse not to be working on aforementioned dissertation
•My year abroad is nearly over. But it only just began!
•Because of the aforementioned lack of salary, I need to finish writing my CV and lettres de motivation in order to make some attempt at getting job of some description for some/all of May and June.
•I will shortly be 22––and 21 already seemed grown up!
•I need to think about The. Dreaded. Oral. Exam. (and other similar academic nasties)

3. The Indifferent
All in all, not a lot will change vis à vis normal life (except the removal of teaching)–unless, that is, I do something totally wacky à la Mylène, on the topic of which…more soon!

What this "end is nigh" feeling, coupled with the arrival of some pretty spring weather, also means is that we are beginning to make more of an effort to go and see all the places we intended to see this year and haven't yet got round to. With Saturdays no longer dedicated to lesson planning, last week a bunch of us English, German and Italian assistants, went on a very windy daytrip to Avignon, and just today I went (despite missing two trains this morning, oops. What a spectacular achievement!) to a tiny place between St Etienne and Puy en Velay…it's called Monistrol sur Loire, and it's where Lucy is an assistante. Very cute, very French–the rugby club were celebrating St Patrick's day in one of the town (village?) squares in a somewhat continental fashion (french folk music, waffles and crêpes and dancey people in regional dress). We had lunch in a crêperie (yum) with her friend Maggie who is a primary assistant from Georgia, and then went on a wander into the countryside where we met some very friendly, rather beautiful horses whose legs were puzzlingly short. All in all, it was a lovely day.
Next on the list for visiting are Paris (during the Easter Vac), Annecy, potentially Annemasse and Geneva, and Le Puy en Velay itself, which I am told is a lovely place. Oh and Montpellier once Lucy has moved there in May. Oh and Dijon. Think that's enough to be going on with!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Le son de Lyon

This evening we (being Laura, Victoria, Emma, Chiara and I) were ambling towards the Epicerie for a drink and some pudding (yummy) when we were accosted by a girl who turned out to be Austrian. She was doing a project for her theatre studies in Frankfurt which is called "Le Son de Lyon". It involves her recording live extracts from the streets of Lyon, first of all of people singing, and later on (good luck to her) of people dancing. After this she will compose a medley-type symphony of all the songs she's recorded, and it will be accompanied by the video of danse, to make some sort of a spectacle at an exhibition in the summer along with her fellow students' other Lyon-based projects. So, she wanted us to sing. Now the problem is, what to sing, when one is accosted in the street, and is not a group of drunken football fans right ready to sing "we are the champions" or the national anthem, or somesuch. So it took us quite a while to find something, especially as we weren't even all British! Ideally we'd have sung in French but we didn't know all of the words to the Marseillaise (quel honte) and Frere Jacques only occurred to me later. So we decided the simplest thing was to sing a nursery rhyme, and we gave a beautiful rendition of Ring a ring o' Roses. The girl was very pleased with it. And then, so as to include Chiara and show off Lyon's multiculturalism, she and I gave a somewhat dubious rendition of "Volare…". Who knows, maybe we could be famous! (Or then again…)

Only the French…(part 2)

On Sunday, as one does, we were playing football in the park. There were fourteen of us, so we could afford to play on a fairly sizeable pitch. It was also fairly obvious that we were playing, and where we were playing. Yet there were two surprising things about the French park-goers reactions.
Firstly, several small groups of French who were sat around the edge of our pitch continued to sit there despite occasionally getting the ball in their laps and/or getting run around. This is not particularly bizarre if they were enjoying watching us play, I suppose.
Secondly and far more bizarrely several groups of people fearlessly and apparently obliviously walked (and not in a hurry) across our pitch, variously with bicycles and/or babies. It might just be me, but I think most people in the UK would try to avoid entering a football pitch upon which 14 students were in the middle of a fast game of football…?

In other news you'll notice a new link to a new Hewitt-Jones brothers venture. May be of interest to some.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


I knew there was someone I'd missed out of my recent post about how small the world is. The first time I went to the Lyon Anglican Church I sat just behind Rebecca Jeffries, who turns out to be on the same UCL course as my friend Sarah, and to have shared a room at boarding school with Cecily. In addition, her boyfriend Ben, who was visiting that weekend, is an assistant in Amiens, but is also on the French/Politics course at UCL, and comes from Oxford, went to MCS and played in Oxford Concerto Orchestra, although we think we must have only coincided in that for one term. Bizarre eh!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

J'ai craqué!

Today Mylène, Jéjé and I decided to go all out and buy rollerblades. Lyon is a very rollerblading city, and Antonia and Max, who already have them, were getting frustrated at us not being able to go with them. Plus now that it's spring, it's a good way of getting around the place or stretching one's legs…so there we are. We were lucky too, as we got them at half price in the sale :) So then we went out on them all together, on the banks of the Rhône where they've put in lots of roller-friendly paths and pretty patches of grass and flowers. Lovely.
Then, when Anto and I were on our way home a young boy stopped me, "excuse moi, madame!" Slightly puzzled, I stop…"did you work in Cambridge" asks the boy, so I says yes…but why? And it turns out that he was in my punt sometime last summer! Am impressed that he recognised me in the middle of Lyon on roller blades…unfortunately he may have been a little disappointed that I didn't remember him personally, but such is life! He was very sweet and asked what I was doing this year and seemed rather pleased with himself for having recognised me, so hopefully he has good memories of his punt outing!
In other news, I have a new private conversation student. How exciting.